Radon levels in dwellings and workplaces: a comparison with data from some European countries
Background: According to 2013 European Basic Safety Standards (EU BSS), legal and administrative consequences of having an area declared as radon priority area (RPA) concern workplaces (WP) and public buildings, as well as dwellings (DW). However, RPAs in many cases are defined as higher levels of indoor radon in DW. The reason is that most data are available for DW. So far, indoor radon data for WP (except for schools) and public buildings are scarce.
Objective: The objective of this study was to compare indoor radon levels in DW and WP in a given area and to evaluate whether they have different distributions and different average levels.
Design: Austria, Finland, Germany, and Italy provided indoor radon data on DW and WP.
Data related to WP were aggregated in the same grid, as already done for data on DW, to update the European Indoor Radon Map. Based on 10 km × 10 km grid cells, the same statistics are computed for both datasets. Thus, two structurally equal datasets for each country were generated to be statistically compared.
Results and conclusions: Generally, there are numerous indoor radon data on DW than data on WP. Statistical analysis suggests that in all the countries, indoor radon levels – in terms of arithmetic mean (AM) of the natural logarithm-transformed data – in WP and DW are statistically different (P < 0.05), as well as from those referring to schools. The difference in distributions is neither attributable to the effect of geology nor to the effect of different sample sizes.
The correlation between aggregated data is positive in the sense that if the mean (over grid cells) radon concentration increases in DW, it increases in WP as well. Compared with DW, in all countries indoor radon levels in WP seem to be statistically different, but the results are not enough to draw final conclusions: on-purpose designed surveys could be a useful tool to better understand this phenomenon.
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