Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Correlation of soil radon and uranium with indoor radon in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area


High indoor radon in approximately 30 percent of private dwellings in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area has been reported previously. The present study explains the areas of high indoor radon as a function of different soil and/or bedrock in the area. Soils were sampled during summer and winter periods using alpha track radon detectors. The values range from 40 to 890 pCi/I air at a depth of 38 cm. The gross mean average is 360 pCi/I for the area for summer readings and 200 pCi/I for winter readings; both values are well over the average U.S. soil radon values of approximately 100 pCi/I. Analyses of soil uranium show a range in values of 1–6 ppm, with a mean of 3.1 ppm. Thorium values range from 3.3 to 28.8 ppm, and Th/U ratios range from 2.9 to 4.6.

These values for U, Th, and Th/U suggest that soil U and Th are close to the values reported for the Sandia granite, the source of most of the pediment on which Albuquerque is built. Soil infiltration rates range from ~6 × 10−4 to 4.5 × 10−3 cm/sec for the samples, and soil moisture content ranges from 1.4 to 7.2 percent. A fair correlation of summer soil radon with infiltration rate is noted. Correlation of soil radon with moisture content and/or with percent silt, silt + clay, clay size fraction material is not established by this study. Soil radon values do correlate with regions in the Albuquerque area where high indoor radon is common. A better correlation of high indoor radon values with soils developed immediately over bedrock is observed. Furthermore, all values of average soil and indoor radon increase significantly with proximity of the stations to the Sandia Mountains. Soil uranium also shows this trend. The data argue that regions of potentially high radon can thus be identified.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References Cited

  1. Brookins, D. G., 1977, Uranium abundance in some Precambrian and Phanerozoic rocks from New Mexico: Rocky Mountain Association Geological Guidebook for 1977, p. 353–360.

  2. Brookins, D. G., 1986, Indoor and soil radon measurements in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area: Journal of Health Physics, v. 51, p. 529–533.

  3. Brookins, D. G., 1988, The indoor radon problem: Studies in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area: Environmental Geological Water Science, v. 12, p. 24–42.

  4. Brookins, D. G., 1990, The indoor radon problem: New York, Columbia University Press.

  5. Heggen, R. J., 1987, Split ring infiltration basic data collection and interpretation: University of New Mexico College of Engineering Report PDS# 110/201, 27 p.

  6. Maassen, L. W., and S. L. Bolivar, 1979, Uranium hydrogeochemical and stream sediment reconnaissance of the Albuquerque NTMS quadrangle, New Mexico, including concentrations of 43 additional elements: Los Alamos National Laboratory Report LA-7508, 193 p.

  7. Majumdar, A., 1985, Geochronology, geochemistry and petrology of the Precambrian Sandia Granite, Albuquerque, New Mexico: Unpublished Ph.D dissertation, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Louisiana State University, 194 p.

  8. Minor, M. M., W. K. Hensley, M. M. Denton, and S. R. Garcia, 1982, An automated activation and analysis system: Journal of Radioanalytic Chemistry, v. 70, p. 459–471.

  9. Nazaroff, W. W., and A. V. Nero, 1988, Radon and its decay products in indoor air: New York, Wiley-Interscience, 518 p.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Brookins, D.G. Correlation of soil radon and uranium with indoor radon in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area. Environ. Geol. Water Sci 17, 209–217 (1991).

Download citation


  • Radon
  • Infiltration Rate
  • Indoor Radon
  • Clay Size Fraction
  • Soil Radon