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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

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

(Manuscript accepted 15 August 2013)

© 2014 by the Health Physics Society