Indoor 222Rn concentrations were measured in 37 houses with alpha track detectors placed in water-use rooms near water sources (bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens) and in non-water-use living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms away from water sources. Results show that relative contributions of 222Rn to indoor air from water use are insignificant when soil-gas concentrations are high but become increasingly important as the ratio of 222Rn-in-water:222Rn-in-soil gas increases. High soil-gas 222Rn concentrations may mask 222Rn contributions from water even when waterborne 222Rn concentrations are as high as 750 kBq m-3. Ground water in Precambrian Pikes Peak granite averages 340 kBq m-3222Rn, vs. 170 kBq m-3 in Precambrian migmatite, but average 222Rn concentrations in soil gas are also lower in migmatite. Because the ratio of 222Rn-in- water:222Rn-in-soil gas may be consistently higher for houses in migmatite than in Pikes Peak granite, indoor air in houses built on migmatite may have a greater relative contribution from water use even though average 222Rn concentrations in the water are lower. Continuous monitoring of 222Rn concentrations in air on 15-min intervals also indicates that additions to indoor concentrations from water use are significant and measurable only when soil-gas concentrations are low and concentrations in water are high. When soil-gas concentrations were mitigated to less than 150 Bq m-3 in one house, water contributes 20-40% of the annual indoor 222Rn concentration in the laundry room (222Rn concentration in water of 670 kBq m-3). Conversely, when the mitigation system is inactive, diurnal fluctuations and other variations in the soil-gas 222Rn contribution swamp the variability due to water use in the house. Measurable variations in indoor concentrations from water use were not detected in one house despite a low soil-gas contribution of approximately 150 Bq m-3 because waterborne 222Rn concentrations also are low (80 kBq m-3). This result suggests that 222Rn concentrations in water near the recommended EPA limit in drinking water of 11 kBq m-3 may not contribute measurable amounts of 222Rn to indoor air in most houses.
Additional publication details
Relationships between 222Rn dissolved in ground water supplies and indoor 222Rn concentrations in some Colorado front range houses