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J Hazard Mater. 2006 Apr 30;132(1):98-110. Epub 2006 Jan 19.

Assessment of environmental radon hazard using human respiratory tract models.

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  • 1Department of Physics and Materials Science, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong, PR China.


Radon is a natural radioactive gas derived from geological materials. It has been estimated that about half of the total effective dose received by human beings from all sources of ionizing radiation is attributed to 222Rn and its short-lived progeny. In this paper, the use of human respiratory tract models to assess the health hazard from environmental radon is reviewed. A short history of dosimetric models for the human respiratory tract from the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) is first presented. The most important features of the newest model published by ICRP in 1994 (as ICRP Publication 66) are then described, including the morphometric model, physiological parameters, radiation biology, deposition of aerosols, clearance model and dose weighting. Comparison between different morphometric models and comparison between different deposition models are then given. Finally, the significance of various parameters in the lung model is discussed, including aerosol parameters, subject related parameters, target and cell related parameters, and parameters that define the absorption of radon from the lungs to blood. Dosimetric calculations gave a dose conversion coefficient of 15 mSv/WLM, which is higher than the value 5 mSv/WLM derived from epidemiological studies. ICRP stated that dosimetric models should only be used for comparison of doses in the human lungs resulted from different exposure conditions.

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