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Soil radium, soil gas radon and indoor radon empirical relationships to assist in post-closure impact assessment related to near-surface radioactive waste disposal

By J.D. Appleton, M.R. Cave, J.C.H. Miles and T.J. Sumerling


Least squares (LS), Theil’s (TS) and weighted total least squares (WTLS) regression analysis methods are used to develop empirical relationships between radium in the ground, radon in soil and radon in dwellings to assist in the post-closure assessment of indoor radon related to near-surface radioactive waste disposal at the Low Level Waste Repository in England. The data sets used are (i) estimated 226Ra in the <2 mm fraction of topsoils (eRa226) derived from equivalent uranium (eU) from airborne gamma spectrometry data, (ii) eRa226 derived from measurements of uranium in soil geochemical samples, (iii) soil gas radon and (iv) indoor radon data. For models comparing indoor radon and (i) eRa226 derived from airborne eU data and (ii) soil gas radon data, some of the geological groupings have significant slopes. For these groupings there is reasonable agreement in slope and intercept between the three regression analysis methods (LS, TS and WTLS). Relationships between radon in dwellings and radium in the ground or radon in soil differ depending on the characteristics of the underlying geological units, with more permeable units having steeper slopes and higher indoor radon concentrations for a given radium or soil gas radon concentration in the ground. The regression models comparing indoor radon with soil gas radon have intercepts close to 5 Bq m−3 whilst the intercepts for those comparing indoor radon with eRa226 from airborne eU vary from about 20 Bq m−3 for a moderately permeable geological unit to about 40 Bq m−3 for highly permeable limestone, implying unrealistically high contributions to indoor radon from sources other than the ground. An intercept value of 5 Bq m−3 is assumed as an appropriate mean value for the UK for sources of indoor radon other than radon from the ground, based on examination of UK data. Comparison with published data used to derive an average indoor radon: soil 226Ra ratio shows that whereas the published data are generally clustered with no obvious correlation, the data from this study have substantially different relationships depending largely on the permeability of the underlying geology. Models for the relatively impermeable geological units plot parallel to the average indoor radon: soil 226Ra model but with lower indoor radon: soil 226Ra ratios, whilst the models for the permeable geological units plot parallel to the average indoor radon: soil 226Ra model but with higher than average indoor radon: soil 226Ra ratios.\ud \u

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2010.09.007
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