Radon (Rn) is a radioactive element which occurs naturally in earth materials as a daughter product of Uranium 234 and Radium 226. Exposure to high concentrations of radon is known to increase the risk of lung cancer. Accurate mapping of its occurrence can help identify households potentially at risk from exposure to radon and assist with highlighting high radon areas for future development. Currently radon maps are produced from indoor measurements, however in areas where few measurements exist there may be difficulty in determining radon risks.
Airborne gamma-ray spectrometry, in particular the mapping of uranium, has been shown to improve the accuracy of radon risk maps. The Tellus data has been used in the Geological Survey of Ireland to produce preliminary radon risk models by combining airborne uranium measurements with other geological factors to provide a modelled value of the risk of exceeding radon reference levels in homes (Figure 1). These preliminary models will help assist further research into the relationship between radon gas and geology.
The Geological survey of Ireland is currently an enterprise partner for new research work into geogenic mapping of radon in Ireland with Trinity College Dublin under an Enterprise Partnership Scheme financed by the Irish research Council. New data interpretation and radon risk models are being developed with planned updates for the end of 2017. Some of the latest findings are published in the following paper – Logistic regression model for detecting radon prone areas in Ireland.
Further research will continue with data and models updated as new Tellus data becomes available across the country.