Radon in Irish schools: the results of a national survey.

Research paper by H H Synnott, O O Hanley, D D Fenton, P A PA Colgan

Indexed on: 09 Mar '06Published on: 09 Mar '06Published in: Journal of radiological protection : official journal of the Society for Radiological Protection


This paper presents the results of a survey of radon concentrations in Irish primary and post-primary schools. The objective of this survey was to assess the distribution of radon in Irish schools and to identify those requiring remedial work to reduce radon exposure to children and staff. All primary and post-primary schools were invited to participate in the survey. Indoor radon concentrations were measured during the academic year using integrating passive alpha track-etch detectors with a measurement period from three to nine months. The survey was carried out on a phased basis from 1998 to 2004 and is one of the most comprehensive of its kind undertaken in Europe. Measurements were completed in 38 531 ground floor classrooms and offices in 3826 schools, representing over 95% of the approximate 4000 primary and post-primary schools in Ireland. Of these, 984 schools had radon concentrations greater than 200 Bq m(-3) in 3028 rooms and 329 schools had radon concentrations in excess of 400 Bq m(-3) in 800 rooms. The average radon concentration in schools was 93 Bq m(-3). This results in an annual average effective dose to an Irish child from exposure to radon of 0.3 mSv per year, assuming that the long-term radon concentration is equal to the radon concentration present during the working hours and that the annual average occupancy is 1000 h per year. A programme of remediation of schools with radon concentrations above 200 Bq m(-3) has been put in place.