tration soil is another mechanism for radon entry into buildings. A key controlling variable—in addition to the radon concentration gradient—is the diffusivity of any material that separates the soil from the building interior, such as a concrete floor. In the case of an open soil floor, and in the absence of pressure differences, the radon flux density is the highest across this interface and is about the same as would be observed outdoors (soil moisture differences can have an effect on the diffusivity of soil). For soils with typical radium content, the radon flux density is 1–2 × 10-2 Bq m-2 s-1.

The presence of a concrete floor can increase the concentration gradient over that found in open soil, but radon diffusivities are typically smaller in concrete than for soil. The concrete floor acts as a diffusion barrier; diffusive radon entry though such a floor is likely to be somewhat lower than that for open soil. For nominal values of the diffusivity of concrete and typical radon concentrations in soil gas adjacent to a building, the radon entry rate due to diffusion through a concrete floor is about 1 × 10-2 Bq m-2 s-1, which is about half the open-soil value. Most of this radon is from the soil itself, as opposed to the radon arising from radium in the concrete (Sextro 1994). This estimate is consistent with measurements of flux density conducted as part of extensive field experiments, where the average flux density was 1.3 × 10-2 Bq m-2 s-1 (Turk and others 1990).

Building materials themselves—especially those with soil-based constituents, such as concrete, brick, and natural stone—contain radium and will thus be a source of radon diffusion into indoor air. In most cases, however, the amount of radium in such materials is small enough that, in combination with the diffusivity of the material and typical infiltration and ventilation rates of buildings, their overall contribution to indoor radon concentrations is modest.

Other Sources

Three other sources of radon are worth noting. The first is advective transport of soil gas driven by changes in atmospheric pressure. Although large changes in atmospheric pressure can result from changes in weather, they are relatively infrequent compared with the smaller diurnal and semidiurnal atmospheric pressure changes (Robinson and Sextro 1997). Overall, these effects are estimated to be small and to yield overall radon entry rates roughly the same as that due to the second source, infiltrating outdoor air. The latter, considered in more detail in chapter 2, provides an irreducible "baseline" indoor radon concentration.

The third source is the topic of this report: indoor use of water that contains dissolved radon, which is the subject of detailed discussions elsewhere. In the context of other sources, the average contribution made by water to indoor-air radon concentrations is very modest, given that the average transfer coefficient is 10-4.

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