Short-term 222Rn activity concentration changes in underground spaces with limited air exchange with the atmosphere

L. Fijałkowska-Lichwa, T. A. Przylibski
2011 Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences  
<p><strong>Abstract.</strong> The authors investigated short-time changes in <sup>222</sup>Rn activity concentration occurring yearly in two underground tourist facilities with limited air exchange with the atmosphere. One of them is Niedźwiedzia (Bear) Cave in Kletno, Poland – a natural space equipped with locks ensuring isolation from the atmosphere. The other site is Fluorite Adit in Kletno, a section of a disused uranium mine. This adit is equipped with a mechanical ventilation system,
more » ... lation system, operated periodically outside the opening times (at night). Both sites are situated within the same metamorphic rock complex, at similar altitudes, about 2 km apart. <br><br> The measurements conducted revealed spring and autumn occurrence of convective air movements. In Bear Cave, this process causes a reduction in <sup>222</sup>Rn activity concentration in the daytime, i.e. when tourists, guides and other staff are present in the cave. From the point of view of radiation protection, this is the best situation. For the rest of the year, daily concentrations of <sup>222</sup>Rn activity in the cave are very stable. In Fluorite Adit, on the other hand, significant variations in daily <sup>222</sup>Rn activity concentrations are recorded almost all year round. These changes are determined by the periods of activity and inactivity of mechanical ventilation. Unfortunately this is inactive in the daytime, which results in the highest values of <sup>222</sup>Rn activity concentration at the times when tourists and staff are present in the adit. Slightly lower concentrations of radon in Fluorite Adit are recorded in the winter season, when convective air movements carry a substantial amount of radon out into the atmosphere. <br><br> The incorrect usage of mechanical ventilation in Fluorite Adit results in the most unfavourable conditions in terms of radiation protection. The staff working in that facility are exposed practically throughout the year to the highest <sup>222</sup>Rn activity concentrations, both at work (in the adit) and at home (outside their working hours). Therefore, not very well considered solution for the ventilation system not only does not prevent radioactive exposure of the staff, but can even increase it. <br><br> The authors have also observed comparable characteristics of the annual patterns of <sup>222</sup>Rn activity concentration changes in underground spaces and residential buildings situated in the same or similar climatic zones.</p>
doi:10.5194/nhess-11-1179-2011 fatcat:ukmx5vfiq5b4joj22ifgxltyum