Basement modules located in southern Minnesota have been the site of continuous radon and environmental measurements during heating seasons since 1993. Concentrations of radon within the basement modules ranged from 70 Bq.m-3 to over 4000 Bq.m-3 between November to April during the three measurement periods. In the soil gas for the same times, concentrations of radon ranged between 25,000 and 70,000 Bq.m-3. Levels of radon within the basement modules changed by factors of five or more within 24 h, in concert with pressure gradients of 4 to 20 Pa that developed between the basement modules and their surroundings. Diffusion is identified as the principal method by which radon is transferred into and out of the basement modules, and appears to be relatively independent of insulating materials and vapour retarders. The variability of radon and correlations with differential pressure gradients may be related to air currents in the block walls and soil that interrupt radon diffusing inward. This yields a net decrease of radon in the basement modules by decay and outward diffusion. Levels of radon within the basement modules increase when the pressure differential is zero and air flow ceases, allowing diffusion gradients to be re-established. Radon levels in both the soil and the basement modules then increase until an equilibrium is achieved.
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Diffusion of radon through concrete block walls: A significant source of indoor radon