Indoor radon risk associated to post-tectonic biotite granites from Vila Pouca de Aguiar pluton, northern Portugal

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2016 Nov:133:164-75. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2016.07.009. Epub 2016 Jul 22.


At Vila Pouca de Aguiar area, northern Portugal, crops out a post-tectonic Variscan granite pluton, related with the Régua-Vila Real-Verín fault zone, comprising three types of biotite granites. Among these granites, PSG granite yield the highest average contents of U, probably due to its enrichment in accessory U-bearing minerals such as zircon. In the proximity of faults and joints, these granites are often affected by different degrees of hydrothermal alteration, forming reddish altered rocks, commonly known as "episyenites". These altered rocks are probably associated to the occurrence of hydrothermal processes, which led to uranium enrichment in the most advanced stages of episyenitization. In these granites, both average gamma absorbed dose rates in outdoor and indoor air are higher than those of the world average. Furthermore, even in the worst usage scenario, all these granites can be used as a building material, since their annual effective doses are similar to the limit defined by the European Commission. The geometric mean of radon activity of 91 dwellings located at the Vila Pouca de Aguiar pluton is 568Bqm(-3), exceeding that of other northern Portuguese granites. Measurements carried out during a winter season, indicate that 62.6% of the analysed dwellings yield higher indoor radon average values than the Portuguese legislation limit (400Bqm(-3)), and annual effective doses due higher than the world's average value (1.2mSvy(-1)). The interaction of geogenic, architectural and anthropogenic features is crucial to explain the variance in the geometric mean of radon activity of dwellings from Vila Pouca de Aguiar pluton, but the role of geologic faults is probably the most important decisive factor to increase the indoor radon concentration in dwellings. Hence, the development of awareness campaigns in order to inform population about the incurred radiological risks to radon exposure are highly recommended for this specific area.

Keywords: Dwellings; Effective dose; Granites; Indoor radon; Radionuclides.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Aluminum Silicates
  • Construction Materials* / adverse effects
  • Ferrous Compounds
  • Portugal
  • Potassium / analysis
  • Radon / analysis*
  • Seasons
  • Silicon Dioxide*
  • Spectrometry, Gamma
  • Thorium / analysis
  • Uranium / analysis


  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Aluminum Silicates
  • Ferrous Compounds
  • granite
  • biotite
  • Uranium
  • Thorium
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Radon
  • Potassium