Master of Science (MS)
Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences
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Radon is a radioactive gas that can accumulate indoors, typically in buildings with unfinished basements, poor ventilation, and/or cracks in walls or floors that lead to underlying soil, from which radon emanates. Radon is estimated to be the second most prevalent cause of lung cancer worldwide and is a threat to public health, which is a concern for national health authorities in many countries. Fortunately, radon can be measured and controlled. In order to know if radon poses a threat on a national level, studies must be performed that allow these authorities to extrapolate data from a relatively small amount of indoor radon measurements and apply them nationwide. This will allow countries to identify potential health risks due to radon and take actions that will reduce exposure.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will publish a Safety Report in 2018 entitled Design and Conduct of Indoor Radon Surveys, which will provide guidance for how to conduct indoor radon surveys on a national or regional scale. The main body of the text describes specific methods of creating and conducting a radon survey. This is followed by 12 annexes that contain examples of previous indoor radon surveys, along with input from the national health authorities that conducted those surveys.
The main purpose of the report is to ensure that national/regional radon surveys are as representative as possible. A representative survey means that the data taken from a comparatively small sample group can be extrapolated to represent the entire target country or region. A major concern is that biases can creep into such surveys and compromise their accuracy. By following the guidelines of the 2018 IAEA Safety Report, however, countries that have little or no previous data on indoor radon can be straightforward and systematic in conducting their own representative surveys.
Many nations have not yet performed large-scale, representative indoor radon surveys. Cyprus and Slovenia both have previous radon data but have not followed through with broad surveys that are representative of the larger populations. This thesis will develop a theoretical radon measurement program for Cyprus and Slovenia, by using the IAEA guidelines in the Safety Report along with an analysis of methods utilized by the United States and Austria as templates.
The IAEA document strictly covers radon in homes, and correspondingly so will this thesis. It is important to be aware of radon risks in schools, workplaces and public buildings, but there are fewer of these and they can differ widely in construction. Homes are more widespread, are occupied for a longer average time during the day and tend to share similar construction characteristics across areas and regions, making extrapolation of results more reliable.
Medicine and Health Sciences
Fitzpatrick, Charles, "Designing National Indoor Radon Surveys According to IAEA Guidance" (2018). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 3357.