The Institute for Earth Sciences takes part of the Radon Competence Center (CCR) at SUPSI, together with the Institute of Materials and Construction (IMC) and the Institute of Applied Sustainability to the Built Environment (ISAAC).

The aim of the RCC is to propagate the Federal Ordinance on Radiation Protection (Orap), valid since 1994, which defines and regulates the permitted exposure of the population to radiation emitted by radon, at home and in the workplace. With regards to radon, this ordinance is to protect the public from excessive amounts of indoor radiation.
The fact that the region south of the Alps is particularly contaminated by radon, requires large number of measurements, both in private homes and in public buildings in the territory. A high concentration of radon in residences is harmful to health, compatible with smoking several cigarettes a day. Children and adults are equally exposed to radon radiation.
The phenomenon radon is more subtle of passive smoking because, even in the presence of high concentration, the gas is not recognizable by any senses. People in contact with the gas get a high risk of lung cancer, the higher the radon concentration, the higher is the risk. There is no known threshold where the radon concentration is not harmful. At any concentration, radon endangers health.
Making public the radon issue and facing it with seriousness, many of the estimated 200-300 annual deaths occurring in Switzerland could be avoided.
Radon is generated mainly in the soil, where it can also present extremely high concentrations (up to 1,000,000 Bq/m3 air in the subsoil). Radon can easily penetrate into buildings and reach high concentrations through cracks and crevices of floors and walls that are in contact with the ground. The concentration of radon in the buildings depends on:

  • the presence of radon in the soil (radon content in the air permeability of the subsoil and the same)
  • the size of cracks and fissures
  • changes of air pressure
  • air circulation in closed spaces

Switzerland has recorded high rather high values in the cellars, in basements and in first floors. Starting from the second floor generally the concentration decreases considerably.

Per further information please consult the website of the Radon Competence Center (in Italian) or call +41 (0)58 666 63 95 (italian, french, english, german).