We used to consider radon as the second leading cause of lung cancer. This has been proved by means of many studies and research projects. However, radon can be used as a tracer too. One example is an investigation carried out in Antarctica to look into how the relationship between pollutants reaching Antarctica and global climate models. What stands out from this study in terms of radon metrology is the device developed by Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). Have a look at the published paper to observe the very low values this instrument is able to measure. It can measure mBq m-3. For further information check the article published on phys.org.
Why do we need this project?
On 6th of February 2018, all European member states have had to incorporate into their national legislation the new EURATOM Directive 2013/59. This is a milestone to protect people against the dangers coming from ionising radiation and, in particular, those from radon exposure. Therefore, there are new needs in terms of calibration of radon measuring devices and protocols dealing with radon measurements. Also, as the Directive states the reference level for radon concentration must not exceed 300 Bq.m-3 so the challenge of having traceable and good calibration sources becomes obvious.
Structure and work packages
The project is funded by EMPIR (European Metrology Program for Innovation and Research) and coordinated by BEV/PTP. metroRADON has five main objectives:
- To establish calibration procedures for measuring instruments capable of detecting low radon concentrations
- To look into how thoron concentrations may affect radon measurements
- To revise the existing radon measurement protocols in Europe and enhance such practices all over the continent
- To provide support for the implementation of the new Directive in terms of the definition of RPA (Radon Priority Areas)
- To revise the existing radon calibration facilities in Europe
Apart from the above, there are other objectives in terms of dissemination of results and enhanced communication that make metroRADON a very ambitious project that will be running for the next 3 years.
There are 17 partners involved in the project. Eight of them come from national metrological institutes and the rest are from research centers and universities. The following countries are represented: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland. The European Commission is represented by the JRC (Joint Research Centre). In addition to that, 25 companies compose the Industry Interest Group and among them, Radonova laboratories AB from Sweden are an active participant.
The project will extend from June 2017 until June 2020. Every six months a newsletter will be issued showing progress and upcoming activities. All the information is available on the website www.metroradon.eu
Last February 2018, the 28 EU member states had to implement the EURATOM BSS 59/2013 Directive into their national legislation. An interesting part of this document is the Annex XVIII with a list of 14 items to consider by the governments during the design of the national radon action plans. The item 12 says “Where appropriate, provision of financial support for radon surveys and for remedial measures, in particular for private dwellings with very high radon concentrations”. The Swedish and Spanish governments are an xample of this. As of 1st July 2018, homeowners can receive up to 25000 SEK to reduce the radon levels indoors. But before doing this, radon measurements must have been done using the services of an accredited laboratory as it is the case of Radonova Laboratories AB. In Spain, the national building plan includes in the Art. 36 the possibility of providing financial support to reduce radon levels below 300 Bq m-3.