Risk maps of Randon, a radioactive gas naturally present in rocks and soil but which can have health effects at certain concentrations, have been published by the INGV. In fact, the WHO estimates that radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer worldwide after smoking.
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What is radon
The soil and certain rocks (lava, tuff, pozzolan, certain types of granite, etc.) give off radon, a colorless and odorless radioactive gas which is one of the main sources of natural background radioactivity on the planet. It is a gas, so it is volatile and dissolves in air. It is usually found in low concentrations and is not dangerous, but if it accumulates in enclosed areas it can reach high concentrations and become harmful.
The real danger to health lies in the products of its decomposition, namely the carry out (Pb), the polonium (Po), the bismuth (Bi), also radioactive. Indeed, part of the inhaled radon decays into these elements which bind to the dust particles irradiating the lung and bronchial tissues. In 2009, the World Health Organization stated that exposure to radon is one of the main causes of lung tumors (between 3% and 14%), just after smoking.
the radon sources these are essentially the floorthe rocks surrounding or building material used in buildings. Radon gas migrates from the ground or building materials and enters places enclosed by cracks (even microscopic), junctions of walls and floor and can reach particularly high concentrations in cellars and on the ground floors.
Risk maps: low levels at Ciampino, higher levels at Caprarola
As part of the LIFE-Respire project, researchers analyzed three municipalities located in different volcanic districts of the Lazio region: Ciampinolow geogenic radon potential, Celleno (mean potential) e Caprarola (high). 250 sites between private and public buildings were monitored in order to create detailed maps.
The results show that “the areas with low geogenic potential for radon in the volcanic area of the Alban hills south of Rome. The areas with medium and high geogenic potential in the northern part of Lazio, respectively in the area of Monti Vulsini and Monti Cimini”. These are mainly results maximum values in Caprarolaintermediate at Celleno and lower at Ciampino.
The results of this study showed that, in areas of medium and high geogenic potential, there is a good correspondence between radionuclide content in outcropping rocks, radon concentrations in the soil and the presence of high indoor radon values. .
In risk areas, it is possible to find indoor radon concentrations above the threshold of 300 Bq/m3, which implies a radiation exposure dose above the level recommended by European directives.
From cross-checking with epidemiological data, it emerges that “areas with medium and high geogenic potential correspond to areas where the rate of the incidence of tumors is higher“.
The goal: to create a national map
The objective is to apply the same method to create Randon risk maps on a national scale. There is a 2018 European directive on the subject which provides for this type of monitoring to be carried out to protect the health of the population.