Radon Gas & Radon Testing

Radon Gas & Radon Testing

Radon Gas & Radon Testing

for Canadians

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Liquid Scintillation Technology

Liquid Scintillation devices are passive detectors requiring no power to function. The passive nature of the activated charcoal allows continual adsorption and desorption of radon, and the adsorbed radon undergoes radioactive decay during the measurement period. Therefore, the technique does not integrate uniformly radon concentrations during the exposure period. As with all devices that store radon, the calculated average concentration is subject to error if the ambient radon concentration adsorbed during the first half of the sampling period is substantially higher or lower than the average over the period.


The Liquid Scintillation technique is described elsewhere (Prichard and Marien 1985). Several companies now provide a type of LS device that is a capped, 20-ml liquid scintillation vial that is approximately 25 mm in diameter by 60 mm and contains one to three grams of charcoal (other designs are also feasible). In some cases, the vial contains a diffusion barrier over the charcoal which improves the uniformity of response of the device to variations of radon concentration with time, particularly for longer exposures. Some Liquid Scintillation devices include a few grams of desiccant which reduces interference from moisture adsorption by the charcoal (Perlman 1989). All LS devices are sealed with a radon-proof closure after preparation.


Radon testing with the Liquid Scintillation device is initiated by removing the radon-proof closure to allow radon-laden air to diffuse into the charcoal where the radon is adsorbed. At the end of the exposure (typically two to seven days), the device is resealed securely and returned to the laboratory for analysis.


At the laboratory, the devices are prepared for analysis by radon desorption techniques. This technique transfers reproducibly a major fraction of the radon adsorbed on the charcoal into a vial of liquid scintillation fluid. The vials of liquid scintillation fluid containing the dissolved radon are placed in a liquid scintillation counter and counted for a specified number of minutes (e.g., 10 minutes) or until the standard deviation of the count is acceptable (e.g., less than 10 percent).


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