Radon in Coal ?

Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: Uglysquirrel On: Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:59 pm

Just came from a home that had off the chart radon readings before a negative pressure fan was installed. This made me think about the coal we may be storing in our basements. Does coal give off radon?
Uglysquirrel
 
Stove/Furnace Model: Pocono

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: 009to090 On: Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:09 pm

http://www.radon.com/radon/granite.html

FACT - All natural products, especially stone, minerals, and sand, contain trace amounts of some radioactive elements called NORMs (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Mineral) that can produce measurable amounts of radiation and sometimes radon gas.

This includes all concrete products, clay bricks, most non-plastic plates and dishes, coal and the flyash produced in coal-fired power plants, natural gas (contains radon), phosphate fertilizers used in your garden (ALL contain potassium and small amounts of uranium and thorium), and the vegetables grown using those fertilizers......
009to090
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520 HighBoy
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: DVC-500 x 2
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Rice

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:40 am

Just curious how you know it had off the chart radon readings and what they were.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal


Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: Richard S. On: Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:00 am

As with most things related with anthracite specifically you're going to inevitably run into the issue of no data , you'll find plenty on bituminous coal though. From attached document there is only one instance where Radon is mentioned from raw coal:

Virtually 100 percent of the radon gas present in feed coal is transferred to the gas phase and is lost in stack emissions


Uranium concentrations are lower than that of granite:

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This is in relationship to Radon in fly ash from bit coal:
Another consideration is that low-density, fly-ash-rich concrete products may be a source of radon gas. Direct measurement of this contribution to indoor radon is complicated by the much larger contribution from underlying soil and rock (see fig. 4). The emanation of radon gas from fly ash is less than from natural soil of similar uranium content. Present calculations indicate that concrete building products of all types contribute less than 10 percent of the total indoor radon.


As radioactivity material in fly ash is one of the main stays of the environmentalists movement I always like listing this graph although it does not have much relevance to this discussion. Exposure to radiation from coal plants falls under "Other" :

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So the question is what's the hazard before it's burned if any? Your guess is as good as mine. Attached is the .pdf, the web page can be found here:

http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/1997/fs163-97/FS-163-97.html
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Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: BigBarney On: Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:49 pm

After reading the report that Richard posted I don't believe we have

anything to worry about With the coal or the ash residue. Since most

of the radiation is contained in the rock and other non burnable part

of the coal it it more or less locked in that material,so naturally the ash

has more of the radioactive components within it.

Coal probably is no worse than the and concrete and other rock type

material which most basements are constructed from.


BigBarney
BigBarney
 

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: Uglysquirrel On: Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:02 am

Thanks, Gentlemen, really good data that I could not find in a 1/2 hr session with google.

After I posted my question I saw info that even said almost all underground coal mines with exception of one mine in Spain have minimal issues with radon.

Than one on of pea stays in the basement for the summer.

Thanks

Bruce
Uglysquirrel
 
Stove/Furnace Model: Pocono

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: coalkirk On: Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:19 am

coalkirk wrote:Just curious how you know it had off the chart radon readings and what they were.

bump
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: SMITTY On: Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:19 am

I have faaaaaaaar too many other issues to deal with than to worry about radioactivity in my coal.

If I stand close enough to a bag of coal, will it cure my asthma? :lol:
SMITTY
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Patriot Coal - custom built by Jim Dorsey
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III (not currently in use)
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Blaschak anthracite
Other Heating: Oil fired Burnham boiler

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: Machinist On: Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:57 pm

I'd like to add that I carry a portable radiation monitor at all times.
It has never alarmed while near coal.
Machinist
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KAA-2
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Other Heating: None

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: Titus On: Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:26 pm

BigBarney wrote:After reading the report that Richard posted I don't believe we have

anything to worry about With the coal or the ash residue. Since most

of the radiation is contained in the rock and other non burnable part

of the coal it it more or less locked in that material,so naturally the ash

has more of the radioactive components within it.

Coal probably is no worse than the and concrete and other rock type

material which most basements are constructed from.


BigBarney


Radiation isn't "locked in" to the rock. If it were, it would be of no concern.

Radon is a product of uranium decay. It is very unstable, with isotopes having half-lives ranging from 1.8 hours to 3.8 days. This instability, and the fact that radon is a gas is what makes it dangerous. Radon gives off alpha radiation (helium nuclei), which isn't terribly dangerous. A few inches of air, or the dead layer on the surface of your skin, is enough to protect you. However, breathe in the gas, and now the alpha particles can blast away at you from the inside. Being so active, some of the radon you breathe in is bound to decay while inside you, hitting you with radiation. Worse, when radon decays, it becomes polonium, which then decays into lead. So, you breathe in the radioactive gas and are left with radioactive metals in your lungs that you can't breathe out.

Anthracite coal, being almost entirely carbon from decayed pants, will essentially not have radon in it. There are bound to be some radioactive mineral contaminants in the coal however, and these noncombustible minerals are concentrated in the ash as the coal is burned. All ashes are more radioactive than the original fuel for this same reason.

Long story short, the radon problem is caused not by what is in your basement, but what is under it. Radon is seeping up from the ground below.

EPA Connecticut map:
http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap/connecticut.htm
Titus
 

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: Rice Burner On: Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:51 am

I actually work at a nuclear power plant in the radiation protection dept. so I have some insight. We deal with "false alarms" on our personnel monitors all the time from radon. Anywhere you have a large amount of brick and concrete you will have radon present. But here is a good story. One day I had just finished cleaning out my stove. Gave it a good vac dumped the ash bin and went into work. Now I live very close to work so I was in the plant within 10 min. I happened to step into one of our contamination monitors soon there after and lit it up like a Christmas tree from radon. The ½ life of radon is short so if I lived farther away I would not have seen it.
Rice Burner
 
Coal Size/Type: rice
Stove/Furnace Make: harman
Stove/Furnace Model: dvc-500

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: Richard S. On: Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:29 pm

Titus wrote:
Radon is a product of uranium decay.


So we can assume since coal has less uranium than granite you're more likely to die from the granite countertop? :P

Keep in mind those figures from the USGS are most likely based entirely on bit. coal.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: Titus On: Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:45 pm

Richard S. wrote:So we can assume since coal has less uranium than granite you're more likely to die from the granite countertop? :P


Most granites will be only slightly radioactive. You get more exposure by going outside. As I said, what is under your house is far more dangerous than what is in it.

I have a degree in physics by the way, and when studying nuclear physics we had a little class project. The Maine Yankee nuclear power plant was still in operation, and public sentiment was in high dudgeon over a minor incident where a small amount of radioactive steam was released during a high school class tour of the plant. We had to calculate their dosage. I don't remember the numbers, but we related it to every day activities. When you hike to the top of Mt. Katahdin, you get a higher does than those kids got. It was far less than a chest x-ray.

Prior to WW2, Fiestaware with a red/orange glaze was made with uranium dioxide as a pigment. My professor had a set we could have fun testing in the lab. Very active on the Geiger counter.
Image

Radiation is such a boogeyman... most people have irrational fears.

PS: The EPA link I provided is specifically about radon.
Titus
 

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: 009to090 On: Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:50 pm

Titus wrote:Prior to WW2, Fiestaware with a red/orange glaze was made with uranium dioxide as a pigment. My professor had a set we could have fun testing in the lab. Very active on the Geiger counter.
Image

Interesting.
My parents still use their old Fiestaware. I'll have to test them with a Geiger counter.
009to090
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520 HighBoy
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: DVC-500 x 2
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Rice

Re: Radon in Coal ?

PostBy: BigBarney On: Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:54 am

Titus:

I agree that the radon is not in the coal but in the ash,but your testing

of the radon given off after being heated to between 1000* -2500* in a

coal boiler,would probably be much lower.You are more apt to get a higher

dose from a few hours in your basement if you are in an area with a large

amount decaying uranium beneath you in the soil,than from your coal

appliance.

What I meant by the radon being " locked in the rock" is that

small amount of uranium or breakdown products are not in the fuel part

of the coal.I know of one house in my area that has a radon elimination

system in the basement which ventilates the radon gases into the air

thru pipes in the basement with a 24 hour fan.They also sealed the

basement floor with a sealer that divert the radon to the collection

system under the floor around the perimeter walls.




Richard:

That the data is from bituminous is correct because they regularly test

the ash for disposal for any harmful elements.Anthracite is not burned

in any large quantities so I would guess that most of the ash would be

disposed in old mines or on top of strip mined land and mixed with soil

for reclamation.



BigBarney
BigBarney