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Air Exchange Rate Impact on Activity Equilibrium Factors and Inhalation Fractional Equilibrium Factors for Rn, Xe, Kr, Ar, Ne, and Their Progeny in Vapor Intrusion, Risk, and Dose Models

Publication Type
ORNL Report
Publication Date

Exposure to the radioactive noble gasses, especially radon, is of high concern and poses a significant risk to humans in an indoor air environment as the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. To evaluate and minimize the risks posed by these gasses, it is important to understand their radiological and physical properties. The EPA’s Radon Vapor Intrusion Screening Level (RVISL) calculator calculates indoor air RVISLs based on target working levels (WLs), target excess lifetime cancer risk (ELCR), and annual dose limits for the actinon (Rn-219), thoron (Rn-220), and radon (Rn-222) decay series. The RVISLs are based on inhalation and submersion in gas cloud exposure routes for residential and commercial settings. The RVISLs are analogous to preliminary remediation goals (PRGs) and dose compliance concentrations (DCCs), where the isotope-specific values are in units of activity concentration (activity per unit volume). If the concentration of a parent isotope of radon or its progeny is found to exceed the RVISL, then further action to ensure cleanup of the contaminant may be necessary. In residential and commercial settings, the RVISLs will vary based on the air exchange rate present. The EPA’s Radionuclide PRG and DCC Calculators also assess the risk/dose from noble gases in the air due to household use of water like showering. In this study, a computational method in MATLAB was developed to determine the impact of the air exchange rate on the activity equilibrium factor (Aeq) and the inhalation fractional equilibrium factor (Feq). Both factors are values that reflect the equilibrium concentrations of progeny to their parent in the air. These factors have a direct impact on the RVISL, PRG, and DCC calculations of WL, ELCR, and annual dose, respectively. This study builds on a previous report that only focused on actinon, thoron, and radon by revisiting the original Aeq and Feq calculation methods, as well as including the values for the Rn-207, Rn-209, Rn-210, Rn-211, Rn-215, Rn-216, Rn-217, Rn-218, Rn-223, Ne-24, Ar-42, Ar-43, Ar-44, Kr-74, Kr-75, Kr-76, Kr-77, Kr-88, Kr-89, Xe-120, Xe-121, Xe-122, Xe-123, Xe-135m, and Xe-138 decay chains, which are not currently available in literature. The EPA’s RVISL calculator will be updated to include the new Aeq and Feq values for the actinon, thoron, and radon decay chains, while the rest of the calculators will incorporate all the new Aeq and Feq values as appropriate.