The geologic radon potential of the United States was recently assessed by the U.S. Geological Survey. Results indicate that approximately 33% of the U.S. population lives within geologic provinces where the average indoor radon levels have the potential to be greater than 4 pCi/L (147 Bq/m3). Rock types most commonly associated with high indoor radon include: 1) Uraniferous metamorphosed sediments, volcanics, and granite intrusives, especially those that are highly deformed or sheared. 2) Glacial deposits derived from uranium-bearing rocks and sediments. 3) Carboniferous, black shales. 4) Soils derived from carbonate rock, especially in karstic terrain. 5) Uraniferous fluvial, deltaic, marine, and lacustrine deposits. Different geologic terrains of the eastern United States illustrate some of the problems inherent in correlating indoor radon with geology. The Central and Southern Appalachian Highlands of the eastern United States have not been glaciated and most soils there are saprolitic, derived directly from the underlying bedrock. Regression analyses of bedrock geologic and radon parameters yield positive correlations (R > 0.5 to 0.9) and indicate that bedrock geology can account for a significant portion of the indoor radon variation. In glaciated areas of the United States such as the northern Appalachian Highlands and Appalachian Plateau, the correlation of bedrock geology to indoor radon is obscured or is positive only in certain cases. In these glaciated areas of the country, it is the type, composition, thickness, and permeability of glacial deposits, rather than the bedrock geology, that controls the radon source.
Additional publication details
Mapping the radon potential of the united states: Examples from the Appalachians
Elsevier Science Ltd
Oxford, United Kingdom
Larger Work Title:
Proceedings of the 1995 6th International Symposium on the Natural Radiation Environment, NRE