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Intercomparison of Commercially Available Active Radon Measurement Devices in a Discovered Radon Chamber

Carmona, Marco A.; Kearfott, Kimberlee J.1

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000001047

An unventilated 70 m3 underground space, with 2.1 m high ceilings and an inner set of concrete walls to damp vibrations, was discovered to have relatively stable radon levels of ~1,080 Bq m−3 over a 1-y period. The addition of radium sources was not required to achieve high and somewhat variable radon levels, as these arise naturally in the space. Several active radon monitoring devices designed for homeowners, radon screeners, radon mitigation professionals, and researchers were tested in the space. These devices were variable in both cost and intended user sophistication. Data were collected at specific time intervals that varied for each device. A cellphone was deployed with an available camera application to periodically capture photographs of the displays of devices not enabled for automatic temporal recording. Attempts were made to alter the radon concentration using fans, radium-laden objects, and radon impermeable sheets. Statistical methods were employed to compare the device's performance under the minor radon transients produced by the addition of 226Ra sources during the test period. The evaluation of the overall accuracy, noise, and response to transients revealed highly affordable devices that may be useful for future research applications. While unsuitable for precise calibrations at stable radon levels, the space was determined to be adequate as a radon chamber for general research purposes.

1Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, University of Michigan, 2355 Bonisteel Boulevard, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2104.

The only conflict of interest declared by the authors is the modest donation of Radon Eyes (retailing at $180) for testing by Radonftlabs.

Marco Carmona is currently a rising senior in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences at the University of Michigan. His work has focused mainly on radon, being involved in several projects in this area at the Radiological Health Engineering Lab. He has presented his work at the Annual Health Physics Society Meeting 2018 in Cleveland, OH. Following graduation, he plans on pursing a graduate degree, most likely in health physics.

© 2019 by the Health Physics Society