Martin-Gisbert L, Candal-Pedreira C, García-Talavera San Miguel M, Pérez-Ríos M, Barros-Dios J, Varela-Lema L, Ruano-Ravina A. Radon exposure and its influencing factors across 3,140 workplaces in Spain. Environ Res. 2023 Oct 16:117305. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.117305. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37852462.
What is known about the subject?
Exposure to radon increases the risk for lung cancer. Radon is a radioactive gas that emanates naturally from the earth’s crust. Because of the geology of the area, Spain has a high radon potential as it may be observed in the National Radon Potential Map of the Nuclear Safety Council. Radon can seep from the ground and build up inside buildings, especially in the basement or ground floor. Spanish regulation establishes 300 Bq/m3 of radon concentrations as reference level.
What does this study add to the existing literature?
The objective of this study was to describe for the first time the exposure to radon in the workplace in Spain. To that end, we collected 3.140 radon measurements in workplaces mainly located in radon prone areas. Radon concentration exceeded the 300 Bq/m3 reference level in 1 out of 5 workplaces. Findings show that excessive radon concentrations can be expected in radon prone areas at all floors levels, especially in basements. Floor level, working sector and location significantly influence radon concentration. The highest concentrations in radon were found within the Education and Culture sector, including schools, universities, libraries and cultural centres.
What are the implications of the findings?
Findings show that exposure to radon is a risk for all workers in radon prone areas. Immediate action is needed, including compliance with the new regulation on radon in Spain. It is mandatory to measure all workplaces located in radon prone areas below ground or on ground floor level. It is also necessary to take mitigation measures in workplaces exceeding 300 Bq/m3. Competent authorities must enforce this regulation without further delay and employers must assume the responsibility and communicate with workers about this risk.
Lucia Martín de Bernardo Gisbert
Cross-disciplinary Research Centre in Environmental Technologies (CRETUS)
Epidemiology and Public Health Department
Faculty of Medicine. University of Santiago de Compostela