Radon, water and abandoned metalliferous mines in the UK: Environmental and Human Health implications

Gillmore, Gavin K., Grattan, John, Pyatt, Brian, Phillips, Paul S. and Pearce, Gillian (2002) Radon, water and abandoned metalliferous mines in the UK: Environmental and Human Health implications. In: Merkel, Broder J. , Planer-Friedrich, Britta and Wolkersdorfer, Christian, (eds.) Uranium in the Aquatic Environment: proceedings of the international conference 'Uranium Mining and Hydrogeology III and the International Mine Water Association Symposium Freiberg, Germany, 15-21 September 2002. Berlin, Germany : Springer. pp. 65-76. ISBN 3540439277


A study has been undertaken of radon gas levels in the atmosphere in abandoned metalliferous mines that were exploited primarily for tin in South-West England, UK, and compared to levels in an old lead mine in northern England, UK. Measurements have been taken since 1992 in the South-West of radon in the air using a variety of measuring techniques. Extremely high radon gas levels have been noted in a number of these mines, one of the highest levels recorded in Europe was recorded at 3,932,920 Bq m-3 in a shallow adit of an ex-uranium mine. The health implications for casual users / explorers of such mines are shown to be considerable. Even outside such mines, in adit entranceways, very high atmospheric radon levels were recorded of, for example, 200,000 Bq m-3. The heavy metal content of stream-water that flows from such mine adits together with dissolved radon content has also been measured and assessed in terms of potential health effects. A combination of heavy metal pollution and radiation can have a considerable impact on health and this research recommends that further research should be undertaken in such environments.

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