Radon Hazards, Geology, and Exposure of Cave Users: A Case Study and Some Theoretical Perspectives

Gillmore, Gavin K., Sperrin, Malcolm, Phillips, Paul and Denman, Antony (2000) Radon Hazards, Geology, and Exposure of Cave Users: A Case Study and Some Theoretical Perspectives. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 46(3), pp. 279-288. ISSN (print) 0147-6513

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The concerns over the risks to human health from radon in underground caves are poorly documented, unlike in workplace or domestic environments where exposures are relatively well known. In U.K. caves, radon has been identified as occurring at elevated levels; but with the exception of major show caves, its impact and risk to the many groups who use the caves have thus far received inadequate attention. This paper presents a survey performed in a relatively “low-risk” geographical area of the United Kingdom and quantifies the risk of exposure in this cave environment. Radon levels up to 12,552 Bq m−3 were measured: Such concentrations are very high but are likely to underestimate the levels in many other parts of the cave system, for reasons associated with cave architecture and meteorology. This study confirms previous workers' conclusions that long-term users of deep caves, as opposed to rock shelters, are at risk. Annual doses to certain groups of cave users have been calculated to be as high as 120 mSv, a very high value. The study also demonstrates that there is variation both within and between caves as a result of subtleties of the bedrock geology, fault patterns, and weathering. This paper sets out a theoretical model.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Radon, geology, caves, Carboniferous limestone, Mendip Hills
Research Area: Earth systems and environmental sciences
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Science (until 2011) > School of Geography, Geology and Environment > Centre for Earth and Environmental Science Research (CEESR)
Depositing User: Gavin Gillmore
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2008
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2016 08:46
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/3103

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