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A statistical evaluation of the influence of housing characteristics and geogenic radon potential on indoor radon concentrations in France



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​Journal of Environmental Radioactivity / décembre 2013, volume 126, pages 216-225

Type de document > *Article de revue

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Auteurs > DEMOURY Claire, IELSCH Géraldine, HEMON Denis, LAURENT Olivier, LAURIER Dominique, CLAVEL Jacqueline, GUILLEVIC Jérôme

Date de publication > 01/12/2013


​Radon-222 is a radioactive natural gas produced by the decay of radium-226, known to be the main contributor to natural background radiation exposure. Effective risk management needs to determine the areas in which the density of buildings with high radon levels is likely to be highest. Predicting radon exposure from the location and characteristics of a dwelling could also contribute to epidemiological studies. Beginning in the nineteen-eighties, a national radon survey consisting in more than 10,000 measurements of indoor radon concentrations was conducted in French dwellings by the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). Housing characteristics, which may influence radon accumulation in dwellings, were also collected. More recently, the IRSN generated a French geogenic radon potential map based on the interpretation of geological features. The present study analyzed the two datasets to investigate the factors influencing indoor radon concentrations using statistical modeling and to determine the optimum use of the information on geogenic radon potential that showed the best statistical association with indoor radon concentration. The results showed that the variables associated with indoor radon concentrations were geogenic radon potential, building material, year of construction, foundation type, building type and floor level. The model, which included the surrounding geogenic radon potential (i.e. the average geogenic radon potential within a disc of radius 20 km centered on the indoor radon measurement point) and variables describing house-specific factors and lifestyle explained about 20% of the overall variability of the logarithm of radon concentration. The surrounding geogenic radon potential was fairly closely associated with the local average indoor radon concentration. The prevalence of exposure to radon above specific thresholds and the average exposures to radon clearly increased with increasing classes of geogenic radon potential. Combining the two datasets enabled improved assessment of radon exposure in a given area in France.