A radon chamber specifically designed for environmentally relevant exposures of small animals


In order to facilitate direct testing of the biological effects of radon, we designed and constructed a 3.1 m3 radon chamber specifically for radon exposures to small animals. The chamber is designed to operate as a sealed enclosure with a controlled atmosphere containing a known concentration of radon and its radioactive decay products. Sensors for air flow rate, temperature, humidity, HEPA filter and differential pressure ensure an optimal environment for exposure subjects. The radon gas is supplied to the chamber from a generator containing Radium-226 in a dilute acid solution. Air containing radon can be pumped continuously using a constant flow rate to maintain a steady state supply. The source flow rate was partitioned to achieve a chamber concentration at 200 Bq/m3 (R2 = 0.9341) or 1000 Bq/m3 (R2 = 0.9715). Small particles are injected into the re-circulating air stream via a particle generator to provide condensation nuclei for attachment of radon decay products as they form in the chamber atmosphere. Particles measured at 0.3 μm, 0.5 μm and 5.0 μm averaged concentrations 5.7 ± 0.6 × 107/m3, 2.5 ± 0.7 × 107/m3 and 2.3 ± 2.4 × 103/m3, respectively. A desired Equilibrium Factor can easily be achieved by varying the air circulation rate through the chamber. The Equilibrium Factor ranged from 0.4 to 0.8 at 200 Bq/m3 and 0.5 to0.6 at 1000 Bq/m3. The chamber was designed to conduct short term exposures to assess the acute cellular changes induced by radon exposure. To our knowledge, this is currently the only radon chamber designed specifically to investigate environmentally relevant exposure time and doses of radon gas and decay products in small animal models.

Authors: Stephanie Puukila, Peter Haigh, Andrew Johnston, Douglas R Boreham, Antony M Hooker, Dani-Louise Dixon
; Full Source: Journal of environmental radioactivity. 2020 Sep;220-221:106295. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2020.106295. Epub 2020 May 6.