214Bi. At the same time, the particles are removed from the air. As a result, the unattached fraction of airborne activity increases, especially of 218Po. Because the unattached fractions of the radon progeny have been considered to be far more effective in depositing their radiation dose to lung tissue, concerns have been raised regarding the efficacy of air-cleaning as a means of mitigating the hazards arising from indoor radon.

A major problem in the previous studies was that the systems used to measure radon progeny were not able to determine the full size distribution, especially in the size range below 10 nm. Estimates of the unattached fractions were made with systems that provide a poorly defined size segregation (Ramamurthi and Hopke 1989). In many cases, the size-measurement methods and results were not clearly stated.

In 1990–1992, a research program supported initially by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and then also by EPA undertook field studies to investigate the effects of room-air cleaners on radon progeny concentrations and activity-weighted size distributions (Hopke and others 1993; Wasiolek and others 1993; Li and Hopke 1992; 1991b) A unique, semicontinuous graded screen-array sampling system (Ramamurthi and Hopke 1991) was used to measure the radioactivity associated with indoor aerosol particles in the size range of 0.5–500 nm.

In an early set of studies, particles were produced by a variety of activities, such as cooking, smoldering of a cigarette, burning a candle, and operating a vacuum cleaner. Aerosol behavior in the absence of an air cleaner was determined for each condition (Li and Hopke 1991a). The experiments were then repeated with a high-efficiency filter system operating (Li and Hopke 1992). It was found that the filtration unit reduced the airborne activity concentrations by removing particles, but the reductions in estimated dose were much smaller than the decrease in PAEC.

Other experiments in normally occupied houses have involved the measurement of the effectiveness of the filtration unit and an electrostatic precipitator by comparing the cumulative frequency distributions of measurements made during a week while a particular cleaner was operating and measurements made during a background week in which no cleaner was being used (Li and Hopke 1991b). A similar experimental design was used to study the two cleaners and an ionization system in an occupied home (Hopke and others 1993). The results of the 1992 measurements in Parishville, NY, in which two ionizing units were measured along with two filtration units were described by (Hopke and others 1994). More detailed studies of the NO-RAD ionizer system under the controlled conditions of a room-sized chamber at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory were performed, and there are several other ionizer-based cleaners for which there have not yet been field studies (Hopke 1997; Hopke and others 1995b).

From the more recent studies on air cleaners and their effects on exposure to and dose from airborne radon decay products, several important conclusions can

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement