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Prediction of residential radon exposure of the whole Swiss population: comparison of model-based predictions with measurement-based predictions


M. Röösli

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute

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Radon plays an important role for human exposure to natural sources of ionizing radiation. The aim of this article is to compare two approaches to estimate mean radon exposure in the Swiss population: model-based predictions at individual level and measurement-based predictions based on measurements aggregated at municipality level. A nationwide model was used to predict radon levels in each household and for each individual based on the corresponding tectonic unit, building age, building type, soil texture, degree of urbanization, and floor. Measurement-based predictions were carried out within a health impact assessment on residential radon and lung cancer. Mean measured radon levels were corrected for the average floor distribution and weighted with population size of each municipality. Model-based predictions yielded a mean radon exposure of the Swiss population of 84.1 Bq/m3. Measurement-based predictions yielded an average exposure of 78 Bq/m3. This study demonstrates that the model- and the measurement-based predictions provided similar results. The advantage of the measurement-based approach is its simplicity, which is sufficient for assessing exposure distribution in a population. The model-based approach allows predicting radon levels at specific sites, which is needed in an epidemiological study, and the results do not depend on how the measurement sites have been selected.

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