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Thomas Chauvin

Accreditation guarantees accurate radon measurement

By | Measurement, News | No Comments

Accreditation guarantees the quality of a radon measurement, in part because the laboratory’s measurement processes are regularly checked by independent organizations. However, most of the world’s radon laboratories are not accredited, which to many might seem a little strange. Why is this? Firstly, accreditation entails a large additional cost and secondly customers do not demand it, but this is expected to change.
The definition of an accredited radon measurement is a measurement obtained using radon detectors from a laboratory which is accredited according to ISO/IEC 17025 and follows the instructions that accompany the detectors.

Why is accreditation important?

When a customer orders a radon measurement, the expectation is that the measurement is conducted professionally and accurately – a non-accredited laboratory cannot guarantee this.
– An incorrect procedure can, for example, lead to measuring too low values, although the user is actually measuring an indoor environment with high radon levels. For those who live or work in such an environment, the risk of suffering from lung cancer increases and unfortunately the individual will not be aware of this. Conversely, carrying out a measurement that incorrectly shows too high values also has undesirable consequences. This means time and money is invested to reduce radon levels even though it is not necessary, comments Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories.
The conclusion is therefore obvious: always use radon measurement technology from an accredited laboratory. In Sweden, the authorities also require accreditation.

What differentiates an accredited radon laboratory?
An accreditation according to the laboratory standard ISO/IEC 17025 sets a quality level for the business. This includes mandatory requirements for quality systems and competence.

Factors that differentiate Radonova from other providers:

  • Our measurement processes are continuously revised by an independent government agency. They check that we meet different measurement standards and ISO/IEC 17025. In Radonova’s case, it is SWEDAC, the national accreditation body for Sweden, that continuously tests that the company is competent to carry out the accredited tests.
  • We are monitored for impartiality – there should be no self-interest for Radonova to provide a certain measurement result. For example, if you conduct radon consulting, it could be tempting to show too high values because it would generate more jobs. We do not do that.
  • We continuously calibrate our measuring equipment and radon detectors against a known radon source, e.g. Radon chamber of the Radiation Safety Authority.
  • We participate in demanding national and international comparison tests.

Note, accreditation may relate to different measurement methods. Therefore, it is important to check what types of measurements a laboratory is accredited for. Radonova is accredited for both indoor air and water measurements. Here you will find more information about Radonova and our accredited measurement methods.

Customers can trust a measurement from Radonova

Since October 1995, Radonova has been an accredited test laboratory for radon. This means that we can guarantee high quality and accurate radon measurements. With accreditation and the market’s fastest delivery and analysis times, we have become the first choice for individuals and businesses who want to carry out a correct radon measurement as efficiently as possible.

Measuring radon in water – Radonova gets top marks in EU test

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Radonova Laboratories has achieved excellent results in the comparative EU test “REM 2018”. The test measures the incidence of radon in water and compares participating laboratories’ analytical results with a reference value. Radonova’s analysis had an average deviation of 3.1 per cent in relation to the reference value. Deviations up to 15 per cent are judged to be an acceptable result.  

“This is a large-scale international test that demonstrates that Radonova’s method of measuring radon in drinking water is reliable and very precise. Radon in water does not necessarily present a major problem. However, radon that evaporates into indoor air when, for example, we take a shower, wash up or do laundry, can be a health hazard. For this reason it is important for studies and tests of this kind to be conducted,” comments Tryggve Rönnqvist, technical manager at Radonova Laboratories.

The comparative test covers a total of 101 participating laboratories, some of which have been involved in more than one analysis. The full name of the test is “REM 2018 radon-in-water proficiency test”.

About radon gas in water     

Radon in water easily evaporates into the air. This in turn can contribute to raised radon levels in the indoor air, and leads to an increased risk of lung cancer. Radon levels of 1,000 Bq/l can add roughly another 100 Bq/m³ to the indoor air. It is primarily radon gas in drinking water from drilled wells that must be measured, in order to ensure that the water does not contain dangerous levels of radon.

For further information about radon in water, visit https://radonovalaboratories.com/questions-and-answers-about-radon-in-water/

ATMOS: New version of the world’s lightest and most sensitive radon sniffer

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Radonova Laboratories is launching a completely new version of the radon sniffer ATMOS. The new version weighs 4.5 kg , has a new design, several new features and enhanced software functionality. The new ATMOS is designed to enable even faster and more efficient radon measurements in the field. The latest version of ATMOS is now commercially available.
The instrument has been developed to meet the needs of an international market that is growing and demanding modern, user-friendly instruments for radon measurement.

Increased demand for radon measurement

The need for reliable and flexible field instruments has increased as more and more homes and workplaces show increased levels of radon.
In the case of a radon inspection, the user normally searches for the leakage of radon and therefore needs an instrument that can quickly display the correct radon content. Therefore, there is sometimes a need to measure the variation of radon every minute and in various contexts to clarify daytime variations. In this circumstance, ATMOS makes the radon consultant’s everyday life easier and more efficient.

Fast and reliable measurement reports

ATMOS is unique because it is the most sensitive and lightest instrument that can be used both in the field and in a laboratory.
– Thanks to its light compact format and general portability, ATMOS can easily be taken out for radon inspection of properties. The updated software makes it very easy to extract data and quickly create reliable measurement reports. The latest version of ATMOS enables radon consultants to conduct considerably more measurements compared to other instruments on the market in a 24 hour period, says Patrik Starck, technical physicist and Radonova’s development manager.
– Compared to previous versions, the instrument has essentially been completely redesigned. The only part that remains is the measuring chamber. That particular part is based on a proven technique and it is doubtful whether you can improve the design, continues Patrik Starck.

Growing international market

Previous versions of ATMOS have mainly been delivered and used in Sweden. With increased international demand, Radonova has scaled production at the company’s plant in Uppsala.
– It is of course gratifying when we now see clear demand outside Sweden. The new ATMOS has been launched after several years of research and development. The positive response from the market is an acknowledgment that more and more people and businesses are seeing the benefits of the instrument, comments Karl Nilsson, CEO, Radonova Laboratories.

New ATMOS specifications:

  • Light and compact, simplifying field work
  • Weight: 4.5 kg Size: 500 x 385 x 220 mm (W x H x D)
  • New software enables fast and secure measurement reports
  • The pulsation chamber has high sensitivity and a fast response time
  • Chirp function – listens to how high the content is in confined spaces
  • Communication to PC via USB
  • > 10 year history for measurement data

The basic version of ATMOS costs SEK 89,450 excluding VAT.

Risks with radon

Radon is a radioactive gas that forms naturally when the substance Uran238 decomposes. Thereafter, the radon gas, in turn, decomposes into radond daughters. Radon daughters are radioactive metal atoms that get stuck in our airways during inhalation. When this disintegration occurs, radiation is emitted from the radon daughters that can damage the cells in our airways and lungs. In the worst case, they can cause cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3-14 percent of all lung cancer cases are caused by radon depending on where you live. Therefore, WHO recommends a radon level limit of 100 Bq/m3.

ATMOS product description

ATMOS has a built-in dehumidification to ensure that the moisture content of the air does not interfere with the measurement. The dehumidifier works in saturated moisture at temperatures up to 40ºC. 40 degrees C. ATMOS also shows a table of the 10 latest measured levels per selected integration time. To each calculated radon measurement the user is presented with the associated uncertainty in measurement. The dehumidification of the air in ATMOS takes place automatically and is fully integrated in the instrument. The atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity of the air are shown in the display and stored together with each measurement. Due to the fact that the measurement value is displayed directly at a new measurement, the user does not have to wait for the end of the measuring cycle.
ATMOS includes software for analyzing measurement data. The display is a 3.5 ? touch screen that shows the radon content in Bq/m³, the uncertainty since the start time of the measurement, integration time, measurement time, time and date. In addition, a field storage bag with detachable lid, 24VDC mains adapter and 3 meter hose with instrument adapter are included. The readout and reporting software works in Windows and is included with the instrument. The software is used to read out stored measurement data to evaluate time variations and energy spectrum. In addition, the software is compatible with older versions of Windows.
The instrument measures the alpha decay of radon and its daughters and is completely insensitive to gamma radiation. The alpha energies of the different isotopes are detected and the radon concentration is displayed in a touch display on the instrument. The user selects the desired integration time, the longer the time the more accurate the measurement. The measurement energy spectrum is stored every 10 minutes during the measurement and always gives the user the opportunity to quality-assure the measurement data. A measurement value is displayed directly at a new measurement and the user does not have to wait.

More information about new ATMOS is available here»
More information on radon and radon measurement can be found here»

How many radon detectors are needed to measure a workplace?

By | Measurement, Workplace | No Comments

Since the EU’s new radiation protection directive (2013/59/Euratom) came into force in 2018, it is mandatory that employers should be aware of radon levels in the workplace. The new directive has entailed new national laws in member states, which has resulted in an increasing number of workplaces measuring radon levels. However, at the same time, there is a lack of knowledge about how a safe and reliable radon measurement should be conducted.

As the world’s leading radon laboratory, Radonova Laboratories has produced a “how to guide” that can help employers carry out radon measurements correctly.

First get an overview – long term measurement by an accredited laboratory

If you have never measured radon before, you should start first with a preliminary measurement by an accredited laboratory. These measurements should be carried out over a three-month period in order to obtain an annual average of the radon level. Note, this initial measurement must be performed during specific measurement seasons in some countries.

The main cost is not radon detectors – make sure you get it right from the start

When ordering a radon measurement, a common question is how many radon doses are needed. Unfortunately, many countries do not have an official methodology detailing how a measurement at a workplace should be carried out. And if there is, they are usually very difficult to interpret for most employers. Therefore, it can be hard to estimate the number of radon doses required. For this reason, we recommend that employers who measure radon levels use the international methodology recommended by The International Radon Measurement Association (IRMA). Yes, it will result in more measuring points than is suggested by a national organisation, but by following IRMA guidelines you do not risk missing certain areas of the workplace, which can result in time-consuming remeasuring.

The main cost of workplace radon measurement is in the deployment and collection of detectors and the investment in radon consultants if remeasurements are required. In the event of elevated radon levels, the commissioned radon consultant will be in a position to work more efficiently if more points have been measured at the outset. So, by following IRMA guidelines, you will have access to relevant documentation which enables you to conduct measurements which are appropriate for your business.

Rules for calculating the number of radon detectors.

The guidelines in IRMA’s method description for calculating the number of radon doses required are straightforward. By following them, you will also meet national criteria for measuring radon in workplaces.

Here’s how to calculate the number of radon detectors based on IRMA’s guidelines:

• Radon detectors should be placed in rooms where employees spend more than 4 hours per day and in basements where staff stay more than 50 hours a year

• For larger rooms and premises in the ground floor or basement, a radon detector per 150 m² should be placed

• For larger rooms and premises on other floors, a radon detector per 250 m² should be placed

• Use at least two radon detectors per building and floor

• Always measure in rooms where you and your colleagues spend the most time

If you have additional questions about the required number of radon doses and how to conduct a radon measurement, why not contact Radonova’s specialists.

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»

Intercomparison test: Radonova receives high marks from PHE

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Radonova Laboratories has achieved outstanding results in a preliminary comparative reference test performed by the state-owned PHE (Public Health England). The intercomparison tests were performed at five different radon levels – Radonova participated with two different types of detectors for each exposure. In all ten cases, Radonova’s results differed by less than 4% from the respective reference value.
During the reference test, radon detectors were exposed to different levels of radon. The results are then compared to the official reference values as dictated by PHE. Radonova’s detector Duotrak had a particularly small deviation where three out of five tests deviated by less than one per cent from the reference value.

Demanding test

“For several years, Radonova has regularly been involved in this type of comparative reference test. We are consistently given high marks but are still very pleased by the fact that this is probably our best result so far. It feels particularly good when we are constantly working on developing and refining our radon detectors as well as instruments and measuring methods,” said Radonova Laboratories CEO, Karl Nilsson.
“PHE’s comparative reference test is among the most demanding in the industry. It tests both low and high exposures which places particularly high demands on reliability. We are always looking to offer our customers the highest quality technology and take this as an acknowledgment that we continue to be at the forefront of the market for radon measurements,” comments Bill Rounds, President of Radonova.
The radon detectors were subjected to exposure between 137 – 2180 kBqh/m3. PHE is expected to publish the report towards the end of 2019.

Radon as a health risk – WHO report

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The WHO’s latest report ‘Guidelines on Housing and Health’ describes how people’s housing and health are affected by a variety of factors. The report describes radon, among other factors, as a health risk. It draws attention to the fact that radon should be regarded as a carcinogen on a par with tobacco smoke.

The harmful effects of radon are emphasised by, among other things, the WHO wanting to reduce the reference level for radon in home environments to 100 Bq/m³. That is one-third of the reference level established in Directive 2013/59/EURATOM, which is 300 Bq/m³.

Radon causes lung cancer

Radon as a health risk is a global problem that each year is estimated to cause around 230,000 cases of lung cancer, which has a high mortality rate. Radonova’s measurement expert José-Luis Gutiérrez Villanueva comments on the latest WHO report:

“It is important that radon is not singled out, but regarded as one pollutant among many. In this respect, the WHO’s report is clear and important. The report describes the harmful effects of radon, as well as how preventive measures can be used to reduce harmful radon levels. Bearing in mind the fact that radon causes a very high number of lung cancer cases, it is vital to speak plainly about this issue.

“While radon is a global problem, the WHO’s report makes it clear that radon needs to be tackled at national level. In order to be effective, each country needs a well-developed programme that can be adapted to the circumstances in each case.”

José-Luis Gutiérrez Villanueva has worked on radon issues for the last 15 years. He wrote his PhD on ‘Radon concentrations in soil, air and water in a granitic area: instrumental development and measurements’ (University of Valladolid, 2008), and is an expert in areas including data analysis and different ways of measuring radon. As secretary of the European Radon Association, José-Luis also has extensive experience of international work with radon.

More information and the report ‘Guidelines on Housing and Health’ are available here»

FAQs about radon and radon measurement here»