Completed EMPIR project contributes to improved radon measurements

Image of a radon test kit
Radon Test Kit

New radon measurements will enable regulators to reliably assess and limit public radon exposure

Over coming years, as part of the new EU Basic Safety Standards (BSS) Directive, public exposure to radon, which can cause lung disease, will become part of legal metrology in Europe. All member states will be required to demonstrate that levels of radon activity concentration do not exceed 300 becquerels per cubic metre. To achieve measurements at this low level, new calibration procedures for existing commercial radon monitors needed to be developed.

Completed EMPIR project Metrology for radon monitoring (MetroRADON, 16ENV10) has provided traceable measurement and calibration resources for the monitoring of radon, which enables regulators to meet the new requirements and support implementation of the new EU-BSS across Europe. Improvements in the reliability of radon measurements resulting from the project will provide a better basis for the development of effective strategies to mitigate and prevent the serious health effects of this pollutant.

Specific achievements of the project include:

  • developing the metrological infrastructure for the calibration of commercial radon measurement instruments and detectors at low radon activity concentrations
  • establishing a network of radon calibration institutes across Europe in order to ensure the traceability of radon measurements
  • evaluating the undesired influences of thoron activity concentrations on radon measurements, with one patent submitted
  • publishing guidelines for radon monitoring and calibration - following input from the industry
  • evaluating the quality standards of radon measurements, and improving them after comparison measurement exercises at various radon activity concentration levels
  • defining Radon Priority Areas (where the radon concentration in a significant number of buildings is expected to exceed the relevant national reference level)
  • evaluating different existing mapping methods in Europe,  and developing a new radon mapping method for Europe including an applicable geogenic (relating to the history of the earth) Radon Hazard Index . This will be used by the national radiation protection authorities in Europe to establish the national radon action plans for fulfilment of the radon protection requirements European Radiation Protection Directive EU BSS 2013/59/EURATOM.

The benefits arising from this EMPIR project’s outcomes include novel metrological standards and calibration procedures that now make it possible to measure compliance with current legal radon protection requirements. The work means that now for the first time across the large geographical area of Europe there is a comprehensive and harmonised metrology infrastructure for radon protection.

EMPIR Project Coordinator Franz Josef Maringer, from BEV, said

‘This project contributed to improving public health through more reliable radon measurements as a basis for effective radon mitigation and prevention of radon progeny induced lung cancer in Europe, leading to improved public health and reduced healthcare costs.’

 This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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