Radon levels above normal in some parts of Azerbaijan

The final version of a map showing levels of radon in Azerbaijan is now ready, an academic has said.

The head of the department for gamma-ray spectrometry of the geological environment at the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, Geology Institute, Chingiz Aliyev, said the map had been compiled in a joint project with the Swiss National Science Foundation, APA reported.

"The map covers the whole territory of the country, with the exception of Karabakh and Nakhchivan. We intend to study the level of radon gas in Nakhchivan in future. In Azerbaijan the norm for radon gas in old buildings is 200 becquerels per cubic metre and 100 Bq/m3 in new buildings. In some areas the level of the gas exceeds the norm.

"This depends on geological factors. These areas are mainly the central part of the Greater Caucasus and the Talish mountains. The active faults in these territories lead to the emission of various kinds of gases, including radon. This must be studied. The level of gas in other areas is normal," he said.

The studies were started as part of the Swiss National Science Foundation’s “Program to establish a radon register for Azerbaijan and Slovenia, diagnostics through the usage of Swiss methodology and experience”. Public health workers and epidemiologists from Switzerland and the Health Ministry are participating in the project. The studies measure the influence of radon on the environment, especially the human body. Some 2,500 Gammadata-brand radon detectors have been installed in Baku and other inhabited areas as part of the project.

Radon is produced by the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air. Long-term exposure to high quantities can cause lung cancer.