Lorenz Curve and Gini coefficient: novel tools for analysing seasonal variation of environmental radon gas

J Environ Manage. 2009 Jun;90(8):2480-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2009.01.003. Epub 2009 Feb 23.


Using a methodology derived from Economics, the Lorenz Curve and Gini Coefficient are introduced as tools for investigating and quantifying seasonal variability in environmental radon gas concentration. While the Lorenz Curve presents a graphical view of the cumulative exposure during the course of the time-frame of interest, typically one year, the Gini Coefficient distils this data still further, to provide a single-parameter measure of temporal clustering. Using the assumption that domestic indoor radon concentrations show annual cyclic behaviour, generally higher in the winter months than in summer, published data on seasonal variability of domestic radon concentration levels, in various areas of the UK, Europe, Asia and North America, are analysed. The results demonstrate significantly different annual variation profiles between domestic radon concentrations in different countries and between regions within a country, highlighting the need for caution in ascribing seasonal correction factors to extended geographical areas. The underlying geography, geology and meteorology of a region have defining influences on the seasonal variability of domestic radon concentration, and some examples of potential associations between the Gini Coefficient and regional geological and geographical characteristics are proposed. Similar differences in annual variation profiles are found for soil-gas radon measured as a function of depth at a common site, and among the activity levels of certain radon progeny species, specifically (214)Bi deposited preferentially in human body-fat by decay of inhaled radon gas. Conclusions on the association between these observed measures of variation and potential underlying defining parameters are presented.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Radon / analysis*
  • Seasons


  • Radon