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Chemical Sampling Information (CSI)
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General Description

Synonyms: radon gas; alphatron; niton; radium emanation

OSHA IMIS Code Number: R100

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 10043-92-2

NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: VE3750000

Chemical Description and Physical Properties:

colorless, tasteless, odorless gas
element: Rn
atomic mass: 222
boiling point: -62°C
melting point: -71°C

Exposure Limits

OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):

General Industry: 29 CFR 1910.1096(c)(1) - 100 pCi/L (This is the limit that a worker (over 18 years of age) can be exposed to in 40 hours in a consecutive 7 day period.)

Construction Industry: 29 CFR 1926.53 - Ionizing, Radiation requirements identical to 1910.1096

Health Factors

Carcinogenic Classification:

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): Group 1, carcinogenic to humans [35 KB PDF, 9 pages]

National Toxicology Program (NTP): Known to be a human carcinogen [305 KB PDF, 9 pages]

Potential Symptoms: Shortness of breath, chronic cough, pulmonary hypertension, cardiopulmonary failure.

Health Effects: Known human carcinogen - lung (HE2); Cumulative lung damage - pulmonary fibrosis (HE10).

Affected Organs: Lungs

Notes:

  1. Although the gas radon is an OSHA Select carcinogen, its effects may be mediated by particulate progeny (decay products) which also are radioactive.
  2. There is an increasing risk of lung cancer with increasing exposure to radon. A study of uranium miners indicated that the latency for the development of lung cancer was shorter in smokers (~19 years) than in nonsmokers (25 years).
  3. Diffuse interstitial fibrosis in lungs of uranium miners often leading to cor pulmonale and death by pneumonia or cardiac arrhythmias also has been attributed primarily to inhalation of radon (and its progeny).
  4. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) as amended by P.L. 107-273 provides for a payment of $100,000 to eligible workers with primary lung cancer and certain nonmalignant respiratory diseases who were employed in uranium mines, in uranium mills, or in the transport of uranium ore between 1942 and 1971.

Literature Basis:

  • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Radon.
  • EPA Air Toxics Website: Radionuclides (including Radon, Radium and Uranium). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Technology Transfer Network.
  • U.S. Department of Justice: Radiation Exposure Compensation Program: About the Program (June 7, 2004) 5 pp.
  • Archer, V.E., Coons, T. Saccomanno, G. and Hong, D.Y.: Latency and the lung cancer epidemic among United States uranium miners. Health Phys. 87 (5): 480-489, 2004.
  • Archer, V.E., Renzetti, A.D., Doggett, R.S., Jarvis, J.Q. and Colby, T.V.: Chronic diffuse interstitial fibrosis of the lung in uranium miners. J. Occup. Environ. Med. 40 (5): 460-474, 1998.
  • Frumkin, H. and Samet, J.M.: Radon. CA Cancer J. Clin. 51 (6): 337-344, 2001.

Date Last Revised: 12/06/2005

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):

  • sampling media: Electret-Passive Environmental Radon Monitor (E-PERM)
    sampling time: 2-7 days
    current analytical method: Voltage change on electret (dielectric) surface
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-208)
    method classification: Partially Validated
    note: OSHA personnel may obtain E-PERM sampler from the Salt Lake Technical Center.

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