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A Comparison of Winter Short-term and Annual Average Radon Measurements in Basements of a Radon-prone Region and Evaluation of Further Radon Testing Indicators

Barros, Nirmalla G.*; Steck, Daniel J.; Field, R. William*

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000004
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The primary objective of this study was to investigate the temporal variability between basement winter short-term (7 to 10 d) and basement annual radon measurements. Other objectives were to test the short-term measurement’s diagnostic performance at two reference levels and to evaluate its ability to predict annual average basement radon concentrations. Electret ion chamber (short-term) and alpha track (annual) radon measurements were obtained by trained personnel in Iowa residences. Overall, the geometric mean of the short-term radon concentrations (199 Bq m−3) was slightly greater than the geometric mean of the annual radon concentrations (181 Bq m−3). Short-term tests correctly predicted annual radon concentrations to be above the 148 Bq m−3 action level 88% of the time and above a 74 Bq m−3 level 98% of the time. The short-term and annual radon concentrations were strongly correlated (r = 0.87, p < 0.0001). The foundation wall material of the basement was the only significant factor to have an impact on the absolute difference between the short-term and annual measurements. The findings from this study provide evidence of a substantially lower likelihood of obtaining a false negative result from a single short-term test in a region with high indoor radon potential when the reference level is lowered to 74 Bq m−3.

*Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242; †Department of Physics, St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN 56321.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact: R. William Field, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, College of Public Health, S327 CPHB, 105 River Street, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, or email at bill-field@uiowa.edu.

(Manuscript accepted 15 August 2013)

© 2014 by the Health Physics Society