Radon Dose Determination and Radiological Risk in Some Mexican Caves with CR-39 Detectors
Keywords:Caves, Radon, Doses, CR-39, Radiological risk
Radon (222Rn) is a radioactive gas, from the 238U decay chain, that contributes in large part of the natural radiation dose to which humans are exposed. Radon is the second cause of lung cancer after tobacco. The US-EPA considers a concentration of 148 Bq/m3 for homes and 400 Bq/m3 for workplaces as the reference level. Caves are closed spaces where 222Rn, which emanates from the surrounding minerals and rocks, can accumulate and reaches large concentrations that can represent a health risk for the guides, speleologists and visitors who spend time in these spaces. This work uses the previously recorded radon concentrations in 8 caves in Mexico and calculates the average dose range and the average annual dose for each of them with the “Wise” public domain program (http://www.wise-uranium.org/rdcrn.html) to determine the level of radiological risk with 2,000 1,000 and 500 working hours per year. Karmidas cave had the highest average 222Rn concentration with 27,633.3 Bq/m3 and for 2,000 working hours per year an average annual dose rate of 347.1 mSv/y. Los Riscos cave had the lowest average concentration with 384.7 Bq/m3 and for 2,000 working hours per year an average annual dose rate of 4.832 mSv/y. These results show that all the caves studied present values,
with 2,000 working hours per year, that exceed 3 mSv/y for workplaces and must be considered by the people who work in these places. A casual tourist visiting the caves does not present any radiological risk, while guides and speleologists should consider it.
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