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Method to Measure Indoor Radon Concentration in an Open Volume with Geiger-Mueller Counters: Analysis from First Principles

M. P. Silverman

Abstract: A simple method employing a pair of pancake-style Geiger-Mueller (GM) counters for quantitative measurement of radon activity concentration (activity per unit volume) is described and demonstrated. The use of two GM counters, together with the basic theory derived in this paper, permit the detection of alpha particles from decay of and progeny ( 218Po, 214Po) and the conversion of the alpha count rate into a radon concentration. A unique feature of this method, in comparison with standard methodologies to measure radon concentration, is the absence of a fixed control volume. Advantages afforded by the reported GM method include: 1) it provides a direct in-situ value of radon level, thereby eliminating the need to send samples to an external testing laboratory; 2) it can be applied to monitoring radon levels exhibiting wide short-term variability; 3) it can yield short-term measurements of comparable accuracy and equivalent or higher precision than a commercial radon monitor sampling by passive diffusion; 4) it yields long-term measurements statistically equivalent to commercial radon monitors; 5) it uses the most commonly employed, overall least expensive, and most easily operated type of nuclear instrumentation. As such, the method is par-ticularly suitable for use by researchers, public health personnel, and home dwellers who prefer to monitor indoor radon levels themselves. The results of a consecutive 30-day sequence of 24 hour mean radon measurements by the proposed GM method and a commercial state-of-the-art radon monitor certified for radon testing are compared.
Keywords: counters / radon concentration / commercial / indoor radon / radon levels / GM method / measurement of radon

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