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The Effect of Steady Winds on Radon-222 Entry from soil into houses

Abstract

Wind affects the radon-222 entry rate from soil into buildings and the resulting indoor concentrations. To investigate this phenomenon, we employ a previously tested three-dimensional numerical model of soil-gas Bow around houses, a commercial computational fluid dynamics code, an established model for determining ventilation rates in the presence of wind, and new wind tunnel results for the ground-surface pressure field caused by wind. These tools and data, applied under steady-state conditions to a prototypical residential building, allow us (1) to determine the complex soil-gas flow patterns that result from the presence of wind-generated ground-surface pressures, (2) to evaluate the effect of these flows on the radon concentration in the soil, and (3) to calculate the effect of wind on the radon entry rate and indoor concentration. For a broad range of soil permeabilities, two wind speeds, and two wind directions, we quantify the "flushing" effect of wind on the radon in the soil surrounding a house, and the consequent sharp decrease in radon entry rates. Experimental measurements of the time-dependent radon concentration in soil gas beneath houses confirm the existence of wind-induced flushing. Comparisons are made to modeling predictions obtained while ignoring the effect of the wind-generated ground-surface pressures. These investigations lead to the conclusion that wind-generated ground-surface pressures play a significant role in determining radon entry rates into residential buildings. [References: 26]

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