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Environ Geochem Health. 1993 Mar;15(1):27-36. doi: 10.1007/BF00146290.

Geological and geochemical factors affecting the radon concentration in homes in Cornwall and Devon, UK.

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British Geological Survey, NG 12 5JH, Keyworth, Nottingham, UK.


Recently collected data for radon levels in houses in Devon and Cornwall are compared with geological and geochemical information. The region is underlain by granites intruded into folded sedimentary rocks. The highest incidence of affected houses is on granites. The granites are characterised by moderate uranium concentrations, a deep weathering profile and uranium in mineral phase which is easily weathered. However, while the uranium may be removed, radium, the immediate precursor of radon, can remain in situ. Radon is emanated easily from the host rock, and high values of radon in ground and surface waters and soil gases have been detected. The granite areas are also characterised by high values of uranium in stream sediments and waters. In contrast, other zones of high uranium in stream sediment samples do not necessarily exhibit high house radon concentrations, especially when underlain by relatively impermeable rocks. Permeable ground can give rise to high incidences, of affected houses despite having uranium levels close to the crustal abundance. It is concluded that the most efficient method of identifying zones of high radon potential is the soil gas radon survey.


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