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Authors: Lucchetti, Carlo* 
Briganti, Alessandra* 
Castelluccio, Mauro* 
Galli, Gianfranco* 
Santilli, Simone* 
Soligo, Michele* 
Tuccimei, Paola* 
Title: Integrating radon and thoron flux data with gamma radiation mapping in radon-prone areas. The case of volcanic outcrops in a highly-urbanized city (Roma, Italy)
Journal: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 
Series/Report no.: /202 (2019)
Issue Date: Jun-2019
DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2019.02.004
Keywords: Radon flux
Gamma radiation mapping
Gamma dose rates
Highly-urbanized city
Subject Classification04.04. Geology 
05.04. Instrumentation and techniques of general interest 
Abstract: An integration of laboratory radon and thoron exhalation data with gamma radiation mapping is applied to assess the geogenic radon and the exposure of people to natural radiation in a highly-urbanized city (Roma, Italy). The study area is a protected territory where ignimbrites from Colli Albani volcano and alluvial sediments largely crop out. A map of total gamma radiation, a gamma transect across Caffarella valley and 9 vertical gamma profiles have been carried out, showing that the main control of gamma levels is, of course, the lithological nature, without neglecting the simultaneous effect of other parameters such as slope morphology, erosion/weathering processes, occurrence of sinkholes or underground tunnels. The surveys allowed to distinguish the medians of ignimbrites (from 816 ± 16 cps to 936 ± 19 cps) from that of alluvial materials (611 ± 14) cps), but showed also that alluvial sediments with anomalously high radioactivity (769 ± 14 cps) can be locally recognized, providing valuable information on the interaction between sedimentation and erosion in fluvial valleys. Total gamma activity was converted into absorbed gamma dose rate ranging from 0.33 to 0.38 μSv/hr. Outdoor Annual Effective Dose Equivalents were also estimated between 0.58 and 0.67 mSv y-1. Laboratory radon and thoron exhalation rates of collected material are positively correlated with gamma radiation. Volcanic and alluvial sediments are well-discriminated. The correlation between the two variables is evident, but not robust because of the variable concentration of 40 K, which is not contributing to radon and thoron exhalation rates. Anomalous data of soil samples located at the foot of a slope can be interpreted as due to reworking and accumulation processes. Similar gamma radiation data documents analogous concentration of radon and thoron parent-nuclides, but coexisting different radon and thoron exhalation rates provides an additional information on different grain size distributions which can be considered as a proxy for soil gas permeability. The integration of gamma mapping and radon and thoron exhalation measurements is a very useful tool to assess people exposure to natural radiation, in terms of dose rates and potential indoor radon. Gamma mapping, which provides data on the radiation source (the bedrock) is fast and not expensive. It allows to obtain very detailed pictures of a study area, but it needs to be combined with laboratory determination of radon and thoron release in order to definitely and correctly interpret variations of gamma signal. Furthermore, laboratory determination of soil radon exhalation gives information on the release of radon and is a good proxy for soil gas permeability. It has the great advantage over in-situ measurements of gas flow not to be influenced by seasonal pedoclimatic parameters and is affected by lower analytical uncertainties. These data are thus reproducible and precise and can be used to estimate potential radon hazard, which is the main source of exposure and thus the most important parameter for human protection from environmental radioactivity.
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