Radon-222 Charcoal Canister Steady State Model Calibrations Performed in a Highly Controlled Environmental Chamber and a Natural Indoor Environment

Health Phys. 2022 Sep 1;123(3):248-256. doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000001574. Epub 2022 May 21.


Charcoal canisters are a common method of 222 Rn screening. The calibrations of different batches of activated charcoal used in different canister designs are typically performed in large volume controlled environmental chambers with known and controlled radon concentration, temperature, and humidity. Radon screening could be facilitated in locations without ready access to environmental chambers if canisters could be accurately calibrated and undergo quality control in less controlled environments. This study compares charcoal canister calibrations from a highly controlled radon chamber with calibrations from a basement storage area experiencing temporally varying radon. In addition, the impacts of exposure time and spectral region of interest selection on calibration accuracy are investigated by comparing calibrations calculated using three different choices. Approximately 30 mo after calibrations were completed, groups of canisters were exposed for different durations of time to investigate measurement accuracy and calibration validity over an extended time. A digital simulation of charcoal canister kinetics was also performed to establish limits on how stable radon must be in a space for equilibrium-based calibration to be performed there. Overall, the accuracy of measurements using calibrations from each space differed by less than 10% after 2 d exposure time, showing that carefully controlled conditions are not necessary for the accurate calibration of charcoal canisters. Measurement accuracy differed by less than 2% for different spectral region selections. Accuracy improved slightly with canister exposure duration. Simulations suggest that radon instability is most tolerable near the beginning of canister calibration exposures, but this merits further experimental study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • Charcoal
  • Radiation Monitoring* / methods
  • Radon* / analysis


  • Radon-222
  • Charcoal
  • Radon