National survey on the natural radioactivity and Rn-222 exhalation rate of building materials in the Netherlands

P. de Jong*, W. van Dijk, E.R. van der Graaf, A.V. de Groot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The present study reports on results of a nationwide survey on the natural radioactivity concentrations and Rn-222 exhalation rates of the prevailing building materials in the Netherlands. In total 100 samples were taken and analyzed for the activity concentrations of Ra-226, Ra-228, Th-228, and K-40 and for their Rn-222 exhalation rate. The sampled materials consisted of gypsum products, aerated concrete, sand-lime and clay bricks, mortars and concrete, representing about 95% of the stony building materials used in the construction of Dutch homes. The laboratory analyses were performed according to two well-documented standard procedures, the interlaboratory reproducibility of which is found to be within 5% on average. The highest radionuclide concentrations were found in a porous inner wall brick to which fly ash was added. The second highest were clay bricks with average Ra-226 and Ra-228 levels around 40 Bq kg(-1). Concrete and mortar show the highest exhalation rates with a fairly broad range of 1 to 13 mu Bq (kg s)(-1). Low natural radioactivity levels are associated with either natural gypsum (products) or gypsum from flue gas desulphurization units, and low exhalation rates with clay bricks. To evaluate the radiological impact the radioactivity concentrations in each sample were combined into a so-called dose factor, representing the absorbed dose rate in a room with a floor, walls and ceiling of 20 cm of the material in question. For that purpose, calculations with the computer codes MCNP, Marmer and MicroShield on the specific absorbed dose rates were incorporated in the paper. The results of these codes corresponded within 6% and average values were calculated at 0.90, 1.10, and 0.080 nGy h(-1) per Bq kg(-1) for the U-238 series, the Th-232 series, and K-40, respectively. Model calculations on the external dose rate, based on the incidence of the various building materials in 1,336 living rooms, are in accordance with measured data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-210
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Physics
Volume91
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2006

Keywords

  • Rn-222, indoor
  • radioactivity, natural
  • spectrometry, gamma
  • exhalation
  • RADON EXHALATION
  • CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS
  • GAMMA-RADIATION
  • CONCRETE
  • DWELLINGS
  • DIFFUSION

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