The use of track registration detectors to reconstruct contemporary and historical airborne radon (222Rn) and radon progeny concentrations for a radon-lung cancer epidemiologic study

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Health and Medical Physics | Physics


Epidemiologic studies that investigate the relationship between radon and lung cancer require accurate estimates for the long-term average concentrations of radon progeny in dwellings. Year-to-year and home-to-home variations of radon in domestic environments pose serious difficulties for reconstructing an individual's long-term radon-related exposure. The use of contemporary radon gas concentrations as a surrogate for radon-related dose introduces additional uncertainty in dose assessment. Studies of glass exposed in radon chambers and in a home show that radon progeny deposited on, and implanted in, glass hold promise for reconstructing past radon concentrations in a variety of atmospheres. We developed an inexpensive track registration detector for the Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study (IRLCS) that simultaneously measures contemporary airborne radon concentrations, surface deposited alpha activity density, and implanted 210Po activity density. The implanted activity is used to reconstruct the cumulative radon and radon progeny exposure from the age of the glass and the ratios of the contemporary deposited activities to airborne radon gas activity. We placed over 2500 of these detectors in more than 1000 homes and retrieved 97% of them after a one-year exposure period. A preliminary analysis of the 1280 detectors that have undergone quality assurance review shows that the modules are meeting their accuracy and precision goals (10%). There is good correlation (r2~0.5) between the total radon exposure estimated from contemporary radon gas measurements and historical average reconstructed from the implanted 210Po surface activity. The linear regression slope of the airborne radon exposure to implanted activity is the same as the room model slope based on typical room parameters. This correlation improves (r2~0.7) when the deposited surface activity measurements are added to the linear regression. Thus, track-registration detectors can contribute to accurate radon-related dose assessment in epidemiologic studies. Additional work is planned to incorporate the deposited activities in a more sophisticated reconstruction model.