Public awareness of the dangers from exposure to artificial radiation is extremely high. Despite the fears, the radiation exposure received by population originated mainly from natural sources (Fig.1) which is several magnitudes higher than from nuclear industry. As result of elevated indoor spent time, the isotopes found in BMs can significantly contribute to radiation exposure in two ways:
Fig.1: Exposure pathways of residents
- External exposure: The gamma radiation (extremely high frequency electromagnetic and ionizing radiation, and are thus biologically hazardous) can get out from BMs. The 2013/59/Euratom Directive recommends a limit for BMs’ gamma radiation (I-index can be used as a screening tool for BMs).
- Internal exposure: The inhaled radon (radioactive noble gas) and its progenies significantly augment the risk of the evolution of pulmonary cancer (2nd risk after smoking). It can exhale and accumulate in badly aerated spaces, such as mines or even in buildings. According to the latest WHO survey the radon levels in individual buildings was in many cases several orders of magnitude higher. The world average outdoor radon level is under 10 Bq m-3 but extreme levels above 1000 Bq m-3 were observed as a result of NORM origin BM inbuilt. Key research performed by the Fellow has identified the most important radiological and internal structure factors, enabling more responsible design of low radon exhalation in all BMs – but the challenge is to go further.