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Radon, health and natural hazards – Bath Spa University

Radon, health and natural hazards

Wednesday 20 January, 2021 – Wednesday 20 January, 2021
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM


Part of the Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Seminar Series 2020-21.

Radon has a significant socio-economic relevance in the developed and developing worlds, primarily in terms of the indoor radon hazard, but it can also be related to other geohazards. Natural radon exhalation in confined environments exposes the population to health risk. Potential radon hazard over a given territory depends on the geological features determining radon production, mobilization and exhalation.

The IGCP 451 radon, health and natural hazards project focused on a variety of impacts and hazard-associated manifestations of radon gas. European-wide research published in recent years has demonstrated that there is no ‘safe’ lower limit for radon exposure. In addition, understanding the behaviour and drivers of radon gas is important and helpful for hazard planners, both concerning radon itself and using it as for example, a volcanic hazard monitor. By considering these aspects, the project's primary aim was to bring together the dispersed research on radon hazard within an interdisciplinary context facilitating potential scientific advancement. Through the establishment of working groups at regional and local level and the development of research networks, international meetings, symposiums and workshops, training courses, and the publication of several journal special volumes the dissemination of a body of work on radon has been advanced. The project has included universities, governmental and non-governmental bodies and commercial companies. Scale of the project has been global. Over 20 countries from Europe, developing countries and from Asia and the Middle East have been participants of the project.

This Geological Society Special Publication represents the final output of this project. Topics explored include radon in the built environment, radon in the natural environment, radon as a diagnostic tool, radon and therapy and lastly the future of radon research. The built environment papers cover a review of the state of radon research focused in the UK but including aspects of research worldwide; the application of seasonal correction factors in assessing risk; man-made sources of radon (and thoron) in the home and high radon in dwellings on karst landscapes. Where radon in the natural environment is concerned a detailed survey of radionuclides in groundwater in Austria was presented, as was; effective radium concentration of rocks, soils, plants and animal bones and radon and carbon dioxide emissions from thermal springs. Where radon as a diagnostic tool is concerned a study on radon and volcanic eruptions in Italy was presented. In terms of radon as a therapy was concerned a paper was published on radon and its controversial use in medicine.

About the speaker

Dr Gavin Gillmore is the Subject Leader for Geography at Bath Spa University, having recently moved from Kingston University. He is a member of the Hazard, Risk & Disaster (HRD) Research Group at BSU. He was formerly a Professor of Environmental Geoscience at Kingston University where he had been Head of School and Head of Department. He is a Chartered Geologist and Fellow of the Geological Society of London and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He is also a member of the Medical Geology Association.

His research interests cover human-environment interactions, examples include;

  • measurement and monitoring of radon
  • radioactivity and health
  • 3D visualisation of alpha and neutron tracks, volcanic ash and PM10s / PM2.5s
  • mining pollution
  • reconstructing past environments
  • geoarchaeology

He has published over 80 articles in peer-reviewed international journals and over 60 consultancy reports. He is a reviewer for 27 journals, and has been a grant reviewer for the NERC, Cancer Research UK, the Health Research Board of Ireland and the German Research Foundation amongst others. He has been a guest editor for a number of peer-reviewed international publications on radon matters. He is a recognised international expert on radon and is Director and Chairman of the UK Radon Council, the remediation industry regulatory body. He has established a Public Health England validated radon laboratory at Kingston which is being transferred to Bath Spa University. He led the international network of excellence funded by UNESCO / IUGS on ‘Radon, health and natural hazards’.

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