INESC TEC participates in European project to measure the concentration of radioactive gas in the atmosphere

INESC TEC’s Centre for Information Systems and Computer Graphics (CSIG) is part of a new European project that focuses on measuring the amount of radon gas in the atmosphere, for radiological and climate protection purposes. The project is called traceRadon – Radon metrology for use in climate change observation and radiation protection at the environmental level, and the kick-off meeting took place on July 9 and 10

The radon gas exists naturally in the environment surrounding us, and is the largest source of radioactivity to which people are exposed; at the same time, it’s a tool used by the scientific community to study environmental processes. This radioactive gas can help locating the source of greenhouse gases (GHG), through the Radon Tracer Method (RTM). However, it is currently impossible to measure and trace low concentrations of radon gas in the atmosphere. This is where the European project comes in. TraceRadon aims to provide new radioactive sources (below 100 Bq/m3), properly calibrated reference instruments and effective methodologies that help quantifying the atmospheric concentration of radon gas. The data obtained will help improving the assessment of GHG emissions and the public’s protection against radiation.

According to Susana Barbosa, INESC TEC researcher, “the project data will improve the ability to estimate greenhouse gas flows, supporting the EU Emissions Trading System and Europe’s actions towards a low-carbon competitive economy”. On the other hand, traceRadon will provide the European Commission with data to identify areas with specific needs for radiation protection measures, while enabling a dynamic assessment of environmental radioactivity in the European region”.

The technologies developed will become available to the current networks, namely those dedicated to atmospheric monitoring, such as the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS), or the monitoring of environmental radioactivity, such as the European Radiological Data Exchange Platform (EURDEP).

INESC TEC’s participation through CSIG focuses on data analysis elements, particularly in the examination of observations and model results for research on the effects of meteorological factors (soil moisture and precipitation, for instance) on atmospheric radioactivity. INESC TEC also participates in the assessment and validation tasks of radon gas flow-maps, one of the outcomes of the project.

Kick-off meeting do projeto traceRadon reaizou-se nos dias 9 e 10 de julho
traceRadon porject’s kick-off meeting took place on July 9 and 10 (Photo: TraceRadon project)

In addition to INESC TEC, the project consortium includes 17 other partners, from 13 different countries, including Portugal: Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt – PTB (Germany), project coordinator; Centralne Laboratorium Ochrony Radiologicznej (Poland); IDEAS Science Korlátolt Felelősségű Társaság and BFKH (Hungary), Lunds Universitet (Sweden), Oesterreichische Agentur fuer Gesundheit und Ernaehrungssicherheit GmbH (Austria), Státní ústav jaderné, chemické a biologické ochrany, v.v.i. and CMI (Czech Republic), Universidad De Cantabria and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spain), Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (France), University of Bristol and National Physical Laboratory – NPL (UK), VINS (Serbia), IFIN-HH (Romania), ENEA-INMRI (Italy) and the JRC – Joint Research Centre – European Commission.

The Norte Portugal Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR-N) and the AIR Center are the two Portuguese stakeholders aboard the project.

This 36-month project will run until June 30, 2023, with a €2M funding by EURAMET – European Association of National Metrology Institutes.

The INESC TEC researcher mentioned in this news piece is associated with INESC TEC.

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