Interpreting short and medium exposure etched-track radon measurements to determine whether an action level could be exceeded

Anthony R Denman, Robin G M Crockett, Chris J Groves-Kirkby, Paul S Phillips

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Radon gas is naturally occurring, and can concentrate in the built environment. It is radioactive and high concentration levels within buildings, including homes, have been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer in the occupants. As a result, several methods have been developed to measure radon. The long-term average radon level determines the risk to occupants, but there is always pressure to complete measurements more quickly, particularly when buying and selling the home. For many years, the three-month exposure using etched-track detectors has been the de facto standard, but a decade ago, Phillips et al. (2003), in a DEFRA funded project, evaluated the use of 1-week and 1-month measurements. They found that the measurement methods were accurate, but the challenge lay in the wide variation in radon levels - with diurnal, seasonal, and other patterns due to climatic factors and room use. In the report on this work, and in subsequent papers, the group proposed methodologies for 1-week, 1-month and 3-month measurements and their interpretation. Other work, however, has suggested that 2-week exposures were preferable to 1-week ones. In practice, the radon remediation industry uses a range of exposure times, and further guidance is required to help interpret these results. This paper reviews the data from this study and a subsequent 4-year study of 4 houses, re-analysing the results and extending them to other exposures, particularly for 2-week and 2-month exposures, and provides comprehensive guidance for the use of etched-track detectors, the value and use of Seasonal Correction Factors (SCFs), the uncertainties in short and medium term exposures and the interpretation of results.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2016


  • Radon
  • domestic properties
  • seasonal correction
  • equivocal ranges
  • short exposures
  • measurement protocols


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