A method for radiologically evaluating indoor use of dimension stone considering radon exhalation rates

  • Thammiris Mohamad El Hajj Instituto de Ciência e Tecnologia, Universidade Federal de Alfenas (Unifal-MG), Brazil
  • Mauro Pietro Angelo Gandolla ECONS S/A, Bioggio, Switzerland
  • Paulo Sergio Cardoso da Silva Centro do Reator de Pesquisas (CRPq), Instituto de Pesquisas Energéticas e Nucleares (IPEN), São Paulo, Brazil
  • Eduardo Lopes Julião Instituto de Geociências (IGC), Universidade de São Paulo (USP), R. do Lago, São Paulo, Brazil
  • José-Luiz Gutiérrez Villanueva Radonova Laboratories, Uppsala, Sweden
  • Homero Delboni Junior Departamento de Engenharia de Minas e de Petróleo (PMI), Universidade de São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, Brazil
Keywords: Radon, Thoron, Gamma Index, Ornamental rocks, Construction materials, Radiation protection


Background: The use of natural radioactive building materials could be a health risk for both dwellers and mining workers. Therefore, a quick and effective method to test batches of rock samples is needed. Nevertheless, there is no reference value for maximum exhalation rates for building materials, except radiological hazard indices that do not measure gas exhalation rates directly.

Objectives: This article investigated the correlations between Gamma Index and radon and thoron exhalation rates, and the proportions of radon and thoron in samples. Moreover, the main objectives were to analyze the feasibility of screening problematic samples for indoor use through a portable radiation detector (CoMo 170), which consists of a quick analysis at very low cost, and to simulate indoor concentration of radon using the measured exhalation rates of dimension stone slabs.

Design: Best-selling dimension stone slabs were submitted to the following assays: gamma spectrometry, radon and thoron exhalation analysis using scintillation cell, and radioactivity measurement using a portable detector. Univariate and multivariate statistical analyses were conducted using Statistica 13 software.

Results: The average activity concentrations measured were 971 ± 58.6 Bq/kg of 40K, 184 ± 9 Bq/kg of 232Th, and 74 ± 3 Bq/kg of 226Ra. The maximum activity concentrations of 40K, 232Th, and 226Ra series were 1,734 ± 100 Bq/kg, 2,667 ± 109 Bq/kg, and 596 ± 2 Bq/kg, respectively. The average exhalation rate of 222Rn was 406 ± 20 Bq/h m2.

Conclusions: The main recommendations arising from this study are as follows: a portable radiation detector (CoMo 170) could be used as a screening method for selected samples; Gamma Index limit value = 1 for dimension stone slabs could be adopted when assessing radon and thoron exhalation; and the surface radon exhalation rate should be measured as a basis of recommendation for surface treatment before sales. Finally, thoron exhalations should be considered in radiological assessment, as 57% of the samples had higher thoron exhalation rates than radon.


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