United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Health Physics Questions and Answers - Question 4

Question 4: How is the dose from radon considered? What about technologically enhanced radon at a licensed facility? [Note: Technologically enhanced natural radiation sources have been defined as "truly natural sources of radiation . . . which would not occur without (or would be increased by) some technological activity not expressly designed to produce radiation." Reference: T.F. Gesell and H.M. Prichard, Health Physics 28, 361-366, April 1975.]

Answer: How the dose from radon is treated depends upon the source of the radon. If the source is NRC-licensed material such as mill tailings or ores, then the dose from radon and its particulate daughters should be included in estimates of doses to workers or to members of the general public (except for 40 CFR Part 190 evaluations which exclude radon).If the source of the radon is from radium that is not licensed or controlled by any agency, then the dose from radon and its daughters is considered background radiation and may be excluded from occupational or public dose estimates, whether there is any technological enhancement of the concentrations or not. Many states are working toward licensing certain materials containing radium and these sources will need to be known to licensees even if they are not the persons licensed by the States. (See definitions of "background radiation," "source material," and "byproduct material" in 10 CFR 20.1003).

(References: 10 CFR 20.1001, 10 CFR 20.1002, 10 CFR 20.1003)

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, October 07, 2015