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Letters to Nature
Nature 334, 338 - 340 (28 July 1988); doi:10.1038/334338a0

Retrospective determination of radon in houses

Christer Samuelsson

Department of Radiation Physics, University of Lund, University Hospital, S 221 85 Lund, Sweden

In the 1970s it was statistically proved that exposure to radon daughter products caused lung cancer in miners1. High concentrations of radon daughters have since been found in houses. Any epidemiological radon study begun today is hampered because relevant exposure data are difficult to obtain owing to the long latency period between exposure and tumour manifestation. Here I present a method for measuring cumulative radon daughter levels, which takes advantage of the fact that the first long-lived radon daughter (210Pb, half-life 22 yr) becomes firmly attached to glass surfaces in a house. By measuring the surface activity concentration of the alpha-emitter 210Po, the time-integrated radon, or radon daughter, concentration can be estimated. Thus, indoor glass can act as a long-term retrospective or prospective exposure meter for radon in dwellings.



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