Articles | Volume 11, issue 5
Research article
11 May 2011
Research article |  | 11 May 2011

Radon concentrations in abandoned mines, Cumbria, UK: safety implications for industrial archaeologists

G. Gillmore, H. Alizadeh Gharib, A. Denman, P. Phillips, and D. Bridge

Abstract. This paper presents a number of surveys performed in a geographical area of the UK, part of which until recently was considered low radon risk. The Cumbrian region was identified by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in its 1999 guide as an area without a significant radon problem in the built environment. The geology of the region, which includes the Northern Pennine Orefield is varied, but consists of granites, andesites, tuffs, carbonates, sandstones and shales. Mineralisation has taken place (mostly lead and copper ores) primarily along fault and fracture zones, one example being Copper Valley, northwest of Coniston village. This work quantifies the risk of exposure to radon in a number of abandoned mine environments. High radon levels, up to 28 589 Bq m−3, have been measured in parts of one mine. This study demonstrates that industrial archaeologists (such as the Cumbrian Amenity Trust Mining History Society or CATMHS members) and explorers of abandoned mines can be at risk from radon exposure and it proposes a management scheme to allow industrial archaeologists to continue exploration whilst minimising the risk to health from radon.