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June 2019

Radiation measurement: from timber to wild boar

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Radonova’s story begins in 1986 when a group of researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden were commissioned to measure the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl accident in Sweden and beyond. Today the company focuses primarily on radon measurement, a field in which we are the global leader.

Each year, though, Radonova also carries out a large number of radiation measurements on everything from wild game meat to timber. Our customers are authorities, private individuals and companies.

“Although our core business these days is radon measurement in homes and other premises, we regularly carry out other forms of radiation analyses. We have so far conducted around half a million analyses, in addition to radon measurement,” comments Oscar Wännerud, a laboratory manager at Radonova Laboratories.

Participated in several wildlife projects

Over the years Radonova has collaborated on projects with a number of authorities and organisations. Radonova also performs caesium analyses for customers in Europe and Asia.

“A lot of our analyses have involved reindeer meat and have been commissioned by the Swedish Board of Agriculture and more recently Sametinget (the Sami Parliament). We have also carried out a large number of measurements on wild boar meat and have participated in the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s project offering free measurement of caesium-137 in meat from wild boar,” continues Oscar.

Radiation levels can be high in wild boar because the animals root for food and consume berries, mushrooms and roots or other foodstuffs that have lain in the soil for a long time. The wild boar also ingests a lot of soil that may also contain caesium-137.

Easy to carry out radiation measurement

Like radon measurement, radiation measurement of foodstuffs and other items is often relatively simple. “Generally speaking, it is easy to order and submit a sample of foodstuff for radiation measurement. Over the years we have received a lot of foodstuffs, including wild game meat, mushrooms, berries and fish, as well as some more unusual items, such as a tree stump, a cot, lynx testicles, vodka, snus and cigarettes. These are items you wouldn’t normally associate with radioactive radiation. When it comes to foodstuffs and items that are in close proximity to people for a prolonged period, it is, of course, prudent to conduct a measurement. Especially when you consider that exposure to radiation can have serious consequences and increase the risk of cancer,” concludes Oscar Wännerud.

Read more about caesium in wild game meat»

British Columbia Lung Association to Provide Radonova’s Test Kits for Home, Workplace and School Radon Monitoring

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Through its partnership with Radon Environmental, the British Columbia Lung Association (BCLA) is providing Radonova’s radon detectors to consumers to offer a fast, efficient, and accurate way to find out if your home, school or workplace has potentially hazardous indoor radon levels. The detectors supplied by the BCLA gives the public the option of choosing either a short or long-term test kit. All test kits provided are recognized by Health Canada and C-NRPP certified. This news follows on from The Lung Association – Ontario also announcing that it would be offering Radonova’s state-of-the-art radon monitors to the general public.

“The air you breathe, regardless of where you live or work, is important to your health. The BC Lung Association is committed to protecting your breathing and that’s why we are excited about being able to offer a variety of radon test kits for the public,” said Christopher Lam, President & CEO of the BC Lung Association.

The two alpha track radon detection devices the BCLA will be making available to the public are Rapidos and Radtrak². Rapidos is a short-term radon measurement test kit that captures a measurement of radon levels over a 10-30 day period. Measurement reports are available from Radonova’s laboratory within 1-2 weeks after the laboratory has received the detectors.

Both accurate and flexible, Rapidos is one of the most effective and flexible ways to measure radon in residential buildings, workplaces and schools.

Radtrak² is Radonova’s flagship long-term radon test kit and tests home’s and workplaces for radon over a sustained period, as encouraged by Health Canada. With ultra-high accuracy over a prolonged period of time, it provides a full and clear perspective on the risk of radon exposure in the tested location.

Radon is an invisible, odourless and tasteless gas that can accumulate to unnaturally high and dangerous levels in homes and workplaces. Young people and children are more vulnerable to radiation as they have higher respiratory rates than adults. However, consumer knowledge on how to detect Radon and meaningfully reduce exposure is still relatively low.

Bill Rounds, President at Radonova, said: “Our work with the various Lung Associations in Canada highlights that the general public and businesses are gradually becoming more aware of the dangers of radon. Radon is a global health problem that is estimated to cause 230,000 cases of lung cancer each year¹. A recent report by the World Health Organization states that radon should be regarded as a carcinogen on a par with tobacco smoke². The technologies we offer ensure customers are receiving a reliable, high quality measurement that will aide in helping individuals make decisions about their home’s indoor air quality. Living with high radon is truly an unnecessary health risk. Elevated radon levels in the home can easily be reduced, but you have to test to know.”

Radon Environmental President & CEO, Alan Whitehead commented: “We’re delighted to have expanded our Radon Testing Device and Service Agreement with the British Columbia Lung Association, to provide our extended range of Radonova short term (Rapidos) and long term (Radtrak²) alpha track radon detection devices. We supply many local health authorities and public testing initiatives across Canada and our partnership with the BCLA will lead to increased public awareness and radon testing in British Columbia. Radtrak² has the largest range of detection of any alpha track device and the Radonova laboratory is the only ISO17025 certified alpha track testing facility of its kind, so our clients can be confident in the lab analysis and its QA process. One of the features that our clients like the most is RadOnline, Radonova’s online customer portal. Through MyPages, customers can easily input measurement data, retrieve reports, and have an overview on every project, in real-time.”

To learn more about radon testing and to purchase a test kit, BC residents can visit here. Short and long-term radon tests include delivery of confidential lab test results.
Radonova is the laboratory of choice for numerous government radon surveys, as well as other public and private sector large scale measurement contracts around the world. A truly global laboratory, Radonova is active in over 50 countries and has performed millions of measurements.

For more information on radon and radon measurement visit click here.
For more information, please contact Bill Rounds, President of Radonova
Phone: +1.331.814.2201, E-mail: bill.rounds@radonova.com

¹ Environmental Health Perspectives, 31 May 2018, https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP2503.
² World Health Organisation, ‘Guidelines on Housing and Health’, 27 November 2018, https://www.who.int/sustainable-development/publications/housing-health-guidelines/en/.

Busy Times in the Radonova Lab – Nearly 30,000 Detectors Analyzed in One Week

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May always equates to a seasonal peak for Radonova. This year, the world’s leading radon laboratory beat previous records for the number of detectors analyzed in one week. Oscar Wännerud who is responsible for Radonova’s laboratory, comments on the season high:

– In May, we enter our most intensive period when it comes to incoming deliveries of radon detectors. In many countries, the radon measurement season ends at the end of April, resulting in a peak of incoming detectors. This year we peaked in the third week of May when we analyzed a total of 29,626 detectors. It is a historical record for Radonova and another acknowledgment that we are the world leader in radon measurement and analysis.

Maintaining quality standards and rapid analysis in the face of increased digitization

– One of the biggest challenges during this part of the season is to keep the analysis time down. This was achieved even though there were huge volume pressures on the laboratory. It’s worth stating that customers should register their information via My pages. By doing so, they are guaranteed to get the shortest possible analysis time. – At our laboratory we have a committed and competent workforce with extensive experience in the radon industry, increased digitization and automation means that we are scaling-up our operations but never at the expense of quality. – As a service we are constantly evolving and questioning established routines. We believe it is always possible to improve processes to ensure smoother operations.

The significance of new legislation

Since the EU’s new Radiation Protection Directive (2013/59/Euratom) began to be applied in 2018, Europe’s employers have become responsible for controlling the radon content in workplaces.

– We have seen a clear increase in the number of companies measuring radon in the work environment. Given the health risks that elevated radon levels causes, it feels good to be part of a team that is ensuring that fewer people are exposed to high radon levels. Remember it is easy to measure radon, both for private individuals and employers. Our customer service team is always keen to speak to anyone who has questions or is uncertain about how to go about conducting a test. Read more about radon and its risks here»