A review of lung-to-bloodabsorption rates for radon progeny

James Marsh*, Michael Bailey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) Publication 66 Human Respiratory Tract Model (HRTM) treats clearance of materials from the respiratory tract as a competitive process between absorption into blood and particle transport to the alimentary tract and lymphatics. The ICRP recommended default absorption rates for lead and polonium (TypeM) in ICRP Publication 71 but stated that the values were not appropriate for short-lived radon progeny. This paper reviews and evaluates published data from volunteer and laboratory animal experiments to estimate the HRTM absorption parameter values for short-lived radon progeny. Animal studies showed that lead ions have two phases of absorption: ̃10 % absorbed with a half-time of ̃15 min, the rest with a half-time of ̃10 h. The studies also indicated that some of the lead ions were bound to respiratory tract components. Bound fractions, fb, for lead were estimated from volunteer and animal studies and ranged from 0.2 to 0.8. Based on the evaluations of published data, the following HRTM absorption parameter values were derived for lead as a decay product of radon: fr = 0.1, sr = 100 d-1, ss = 1.7 d-1, fb = 0.5 and sb = 1.7 d-1. Effective doses calculated assuming these absorption parameter values instead of a single absorption half-time of 10 h with no binding (as has generally been assumed) are only a few per cent higher. However, as there is some conflicting evidence on the absorption kinetics for radon progeny, dose calculations have been carried out for different sets of absorption parameter values derived from different studies. The results of these calculations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbernct179
Pages (from-to)499-514
Number of pages16
JournalRadiation Protection Dosimetry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


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