, Volume 198, Issue 1-4, pp 307-316
Date: 03 Oct 2008

An Environmental Risk Assessment of Radon in Lantian Karst Cave of Shaanxi, China

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Abstract

The radiation dose and environmental health risk of radon concentration in the Lantian karst cave of China to guides and visitors were estimated based on the continuous radon concentration monitoring. Distinct seasonal variations were observed in the radon concentration of the air inside the cave. The maximum concentration occurred in the summer, whereas the minimum radon concentration occurred during the winter. The annual average radon concentration in the caves investigated is slightly higher than the upper bound of radon action level for underground space used in China and less than the upper bound of radon action level recommended by the International Commission on Radiation Protection (ICRP) for workplaces. The annual effective dose to tour guides working in two investigated caves varies from 4.1 to 16.5mSv, depending on different equilibrium factors together with different dose conversion factors proposed in the literature. The annual maximum time that a tour guide or other worker can safely be inside the cave is estimated to be 1,250 or 2,246h, depending on whether one bases this on the high or mean radon concentration, with an equilibrium factor of one in both cases. Given the synergistic effects of smoking, tour guides who are smokers should be in the cave only 10–20% of these hours. In all cases, the annual effective doses to visitors are well below the 1mSv maximum suggested dose for a member of the public for 1 year.