UK Caving

WHERE THE CAVES ARE - The Caving Regions => Peak District => Topic started by: pwhole on September 25, 2020, 09:15:12 pm

Title: Radon in Giants
Post by: pwhole on September 25, 2020, 09:15:12 pm
I'm keen and I've asked Ryan.
Stupid question though. How many trips in giants is safe? I've done 2 recently so I'm aware of the radon issues. Or am I being paranoid?

No, you're not being paranoid. Rumour has it the levels get much lower after summer, and winter is pretty much 'ok'. High summer is pretty bad.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Pete K on September 25, 2020, 09:37:48 pm
I'm keen and I've asked Ryan.
Stupid question though. How many trips in giants is safe? I've done 2 recently so I'm aware of the radon issues. Or am I being paranoid?
It's huge, especially when there are deep low pressure systems about. As it gets colder it'll drop off. Mid summer it is one of the highest radon concentrations for any cave in the county. As for risk, well that depends on how much caving you do in other high radon environments.
For work, I would be limiting myself to 1 descent length trip a month in the summer and a couple a month at other times of the year.
There is some info on the BCA website here: https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=publications_information:radon&s[]=radon
If you're really interested, I can dig out the actual figures collected over the last few years. For a very rough comparison, the 'safe' level (no action needed) for an office is under 300 Bqm-3, Giant's gets up to something like 50000 Bqm-3. You would spend 5 x 8 hours in that office though, and not that much time in Giant's, so the it's not quite as bad as the figures might show.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: alastairgott on September 25, 2020, 10:56:26 pm
There is some info on the BCA website here: https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=publications_information:radon&s[]=radon

There's some heavy stuff on there pete! especially on the doc that it attaches, where it seems Ben could do his homework or decide his dog ate his homework and he'll go to giants anyway :s

https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=publications_information:radon_underground_3rd_edition.pdf Heavy stuff starts from pg 49...
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: benshannon on September 26, 2020, 07:59:24 am
Hmmm, very interesting, and worrying. 😬😬😬
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: 2xw on September 26, 2020, 08:02:28 am
It's also worth reading the section about context on page ten which says on any trip the risk of death on a given trip is 5x more than the extra risk of lung cancer you attribute to yourself
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Fatman on September 26, 2020, 06:54:33 pm
Are there any specfic parts of the cave known to have higher concentrations of radon?
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Pete K on September 26, 2020, 08:22:31 pm
Are there any specfic parts of the cave known to have higher concentrations of radon?
All of it below the entrance  :)
Below the basalt beds in Basecamp Chamber and off with the water down the Crabwalk. Highest recorded reading was (I think) at the Eating House. It has only been monitored in very limited spots due to the time and cost involved. Figures from 1989/90 can be found in a thesis by Rob Hyland with a bit of Googleing, and PICA*/BCA has conducted some work in the area above Garlands Pot which also confirm the 1989/90 readings.

*Peak Instructed Caving Affiliation
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Brains on September 26, 2020, 08:51:29 pm
Want the Ghost Rift area reported as quite hot?
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: tdobson on September 27, 2020, 12:16:18 am
All of it below the entrance  :)

So I had a good "jolly" doing my homework on the BCA reports on Radon, and so I can see that Peak has the most, and given the stats, I can see why the old guard happily ignore it, because it's so much easier.

The thing I find interesting is:
1) Bagshawe, Carlswark, Giants - all the "inspiring" newb caves that PICA (and my club!) might take people in are Radon-tastic. I'm in Bagshawe a lot, and hahahahahahhahahah Radon hahahahha yes it's a lot of Radon
2) I've heard people complain about Radon exposure in Giants, but the fact other caves are worse is really surprising to me. They're Peak District caves I visit more!
3) I can see why Mouldridge appeals so much to PICA etc ;)

Y'all gonna do what you wanna do, so I'm not going to tell anyone what risks to or to not accept, but yeah - it's definitely an interesting one. For me who has done ~5-10 Bagshawe trips this year more than people doing one off trips!

Eager to try and focus on the engineering works in this thread - but I know that's like pouring petrol on a candle and telling it not to burn.

p.s. mods - if you wanna split the thread into sumps and radon, feel free :)
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: pwhole on September 27, 2020, 01:09:27 am
I'm told that the Matlock area is particularly low in radon, despite the abundance of lava in that area - it's possible the lower lavas trap any rising radon and force it eastwards under the shale, but I'm no expert. But you can do regular visits in that area with few issues. I think the shale boundary is ironically part of the problem in Castleton - that and uranium. I'm sure I read somewhere once that boreholes had been drilled around the Mam Tor/Odin Rake area testing for it, but I've never managed to find it again. Not the kind of thing I'd dream up, but no joy. But I gather that Odin Rake is a particularly deep fault and may go all the way to the base of the limestone, which is quite a long way. Windy Knoll also has elaterite (bitumen) deposits in the rock, and it is sticky, just like tar. So that must be coming upwards from somewhere. Giants, particularly the deeper sections, isn't that far away really.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: bograt on September 27, 2020, 08:41:15 am
A comparison of shale types could shed some light on the anomaly, Matlock is closer to a coal shale whereas Castleton is a gritstone shale?--
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: mikem on September 27, 2020, 09:43:18 am
I don't think they were drilling for uranium, but in 2006, C.Abesser published an article called "uranium concentrations in the groundwater of the Derbyshire dome", which references results from mines, soughs & boreholes.

This may come in useful (you could live in Cornwall):
https://www.ukradon.org/information/ukmaps

& an explanation of why levels vary (in US):
https://certmapper.cr.usgs.gov/data/PubArchives/radon/georadon/3.html
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: pwhole on September 27, 2020, 01:15:15 pm
Checking the BGS borehole logs show that most of the boreholes around there were for investigating the Mam Tor landslip, but I don't know how far back the records go. There is one, however, between the lower Odin engine shaft and Knowlegates Farm which is marked 'Confidential'. Trevor Ford does mention uranium in the geology section of the PDMHS special Bulletin on Odin in 1976 - I need to re-read that.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: pwhole on September 27, 2020, 01:40:14 pm
Just found this paper on Blue John colouration whilst looking for the Peacock and Taylor (1966) report on uraniferous collophane referenced in both Ford (in the Odin Bulletin) and Abesser - it's all interesting, but particularly the last paragraph:

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=1F7CB060ED2298FF67C98806096200F8?doi=10.1.1.605.8584&rep=rep1&type=pdf (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=1F7CB060ED2298FF67C98806096200F8?doi=10.1.1.605.8584&rep=rep1&type=pdf)

Also this - see page 79 onwards:

https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/54537315/FULL_TEXT.PDF (https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/54537315/FULL_TEXT.PDF)
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Bob Mehew on September 27, 2020, 05:20:08 pm
Has anyoone else had problems with downloading the 2nd reference by PWhole?

I did wonder about the contribution to radon emanations from sediments washed into caves.  BGS has some data in their G-BASE data set via http://mapapps2.bgs.ac.uk/geoindex/home.html (http://mapapps2.bgs.ac.uk/geoindex/home.html) but I failed to gain access into it.

Rob Hyland's thesis is at http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/4839/1/DX193594.pdf (http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/4839/1/DX193594.pdf).  Giant's holds the world record though I amnot certain if anyone has done a recent literature search to confirm that.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: pwhole on September 27, 2020, 08:32:49 pm
The doc seems to load every time for me.

It's an interesting one as I hadn't really considered the source materials being washed into the cave to then percolate back upstream - possibly as Giants has a large permanent sump, with a lot of airspace (but not much circulation) above it?
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: AR on September 27, 2020, 09:05:14 pm
I'm having trouble with the Manchester paper too - it gets about 2/3 through the download then just stops.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: tdobson on September 27, 2020, 10:54:54 pm
Thanks Pwhole for the split!

The 1995 Huddersfield paper is bedtime reading for a good fornight! Thanks for that.

I have a (temporary) mirror of "the manchester paper" for anyone who's particularly interested. It's only a temporary link so it won't work 2-3 days from now, but I can re-enable it.

https://cloud-files-4-me.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/Downloads/FULL_TEXT.PDF

Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: SamT on September 27, 2020, 11:53:16 pm


Thanks Pwhole for the split!


I thank you..
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Bob Mehew on September 28, 2020, 07:52:02 am
I have a (temporary) mirror of "the manchester paper" for anyone who's particularly interested.
many thanks, as you say, more bed time reading.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Mrs Trellis on September 28, 2020, 11:03:30 am
Does anyone have figures for the show caves - to see whether the extractor fans make a difference? Given the basalt above Peak-Speedwell one would imagine this area isn't great.

Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Bob Mehew on September 28, 2020, 11:25:10 am
Does anyone have figures for the show caves - to see whether the extractor fans make a difference? Given the basalt above Peak-Speedwell one would imagine this area isn't great.
The simple answer is no for the UK as they are kept confidential.  But Hyland's thesis at p46 and p170 points to it being used with effect.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: pwhole on September 28, 2020, 11:33:39 am
I'm not sure if the lava itself would be a problem for the show cave - if you mean as an 'umbrella'? I've attached a crude overlay (the BGS maps are very crude!) of the Cavedale Lava (pink colouring) over the Peak-Speedwell system, and it only actually covers a small amount. I don't know how accurate the mapping of the outcrop actually is, but I doubt it's much more than this. The only place I've seen underground with actual physical evidence of the lava is at the top of Victoria Aven, either within the choke at the very top of Victoria Chamber, or at the base of George Cooper Aven. I also found a very large animal rib-bone in the Victoria Chamber choke a few years ago (not the one noted by JNC years before) which I gave to Andrew Chamberlain, so something must have been open to surface at one point, though it's just grass now. There is a large burial barrow adjacent, which is a Scheduled Monument, so maybe they dug a bit too deep into an existing swallow hole when they created it?

The Peak-Speedwell survey is relatively accurate, and Victoria Aven can be seen to be outside the outcrop. In which case the outcrop mapping is definitely inaccurate, although to be fair to the BGS they didn't have access to the top of Victoria Aven when they were doing the mapping. Though they know where to sink a borehole now ;)

The blocks at the base of George Gooper Aven are very large, and are dark green and unmistakably basalt - I took a small lump out which is in the Chapel kitchen cabinet. Given the roof directly above this point is solid limestone, this means they must have fallen down the aven from above and bounced down the further pitches. There's probably more covered in mud lower down in Echo Chamber. The micro-guide for this area does say that a climb up is possible into lava blocks, so I suspect the lava literally caps the development around there.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: bograt on September 28, 2020, 06:12:40 pm
When comparing surface detail with substrata features, one needs to consider the hade of the subterranean features, a mistake often made--- ;)
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: tdobson on October 02, 2020, 02:44:22 am
So the main question I have about Radon (and I realise this is stirring up the can of worms), goes something like this:

"At what point does the risk of lung cancer from Radon exposure get similar to the risk from smoking?"

At a glance, it'd seem like one would know this, because there is data for people who smoke and don't smoke, who are living in relatively low-radony (by peak cave standards!) areas.

The issue I can see is that I'm choosing to expose myself (nonsmoker) to relatively high concentrations of Radon, albeit for smallish amounts of time - but no-one suggests if the risk from higher concentrations is linear or otherwise - as far as I can see.

Anyone want to present any "fag packet" workings or theories?

Pun intended ofc.





Thanks Pwhole for the split!


I thank you..

Whoops - Sorry Sam! Still getting my bearing on who can do what here!
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Mark on October 02, 2020, 06:18:03 am

"At what point does the risk of lung cancer from Radon exposure get similar to the risk from smoking?"


Doug Nash would have been the man to ask on this one, he smoked cigarettes from the age of 11, started smoking a pipe 18hrs a day in his 50s, because cigarettes were bad for him.

He spent most of his life in Radon riddled mines (work and play) and lived in a high radon area in Eyam

Lived to 95
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Pete K on October 02, 2020, 07:24:57 am
"At what point does the risk of lung cancer from Radon exposure get similar to the risk from smoking?"

Although I can't give you the answer you want, I can point you at the section of the BCA's new Radon Underground document that refers to health risk.
https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=publications_information:bca_radon_underground_2nd_ed.pdf
Section 1.3 & 1.4 page 8.
Mark is right to highlight that exposure to radon does not necessarily increase the risk to the individual, as in Doug's case perhaps, although anecdotally, there is seemingly a high correlation between lung cancer and cavers. I just hope I fall on the Doug side of the genetic spectrum on this.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: andrewmc on October 02, 2020, 07:34:52 am
I believe the most common assumption with hazard due to low levels of radiation exposure is the linear no-threshold model, which basically says the risk is directly proportional to the exposure all the way down to zero dose, zero risk. Obviously the smaller the dose, the harder it is to demonstrate outcomes, so it's an assumption that the behaviour observed at higher doses continues at lower doses. Various people have proposed that at some arbitrary low dose the hazard suddenly disappears, or radiation even becomes helpful, but there's not really good evidence for that.

At higher doses, things are a bit different (e.g. the same dose in a shorter time is more dangerous than spread out over time) but I suspect that isn't relevant? Someone with radiological experience would probably know.

So the mainstream assumption is that there is no 'safe' dose of ionising radiation: you could go in Giant's once, be very unlucky and get lung cancer. Although equally there is background radiation everywhere, so you could just get lung cancer outside the cave if you were unlucky.

The dose limits are just to keep individual risks extremely low, I think, not because there is a 'safe' dose.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: mikem on October 02, 2020, 08:02:42 am
The correlation of lung cancer to cavers may also be due to dust inhalation, rather than radon, or it may just be because the majority of those now over 60 smoked when they were younger (or were subjected to it passively in huts, pubs & underground).

Genetics are also more important than (reasonable) dose levels, as some people are much more susceptible than others, but government can't legislate on that.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: mrodoc on October 02, 2020, 09:29:21 am
The effect of radon on smokers is synergistic ie smoking amplifies the risk of lung cancer with co exposure many fold (cannot recall how many). I have always maintained that with the number of active cavers in the UK it would be very difficult to establish a link once you have removed all the cavers who smoke. Nowadays the numbers of cavers who smoke has dropped (if they behave like the general population) so perhaps a caving epidemiologist could look at this again.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Speleotron on October 02, 2020, 09:31:48 am

"At what point does the risk of lung cancer from Radon exposure get similar to the risk from smoking?"


Doug Nash would have been the man to ask on this one, he smoked cigarettes from the age of 11, started smoking a pipe 18hrs a day in his 50s, because cigarettes were bad for him.

He spent most of his life in Radon riddled mines (work and play) and lived in a high radon area in Eyam

Lived to 95

You do get survivorship bias with this kind of story though!
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Brains on October 02, 2020, 11:53:26 am
The effect of radon on smokers is synergistic ie smoking amplifies the risk of lung cancer with co exposure many fold (cannot recall how many). I have always maintained that with the number of active cavers in the UK it would be very difficult to establish a link once you have removed all the cavers who smoke. Nowadays the numbers of cavers who smoke has dropped (if they behave like the general population) so perhaps a caving epidemiologist could look at this again.
Back in the days of carbide and ladders, smoking underground was a common thing. Sparking up from a stinky was almost a pleasure in itself. In these enlightened times electrons, stinkies and smokes are generally frowned upon everywhere. In some backwards places fireworks etc. are still seen as acceptable to a minority...
The image a beardy caver in grots on a ladder, hiding under a texolex and stinky with a dog end glued to a lip is not that out of date in some respects  ;D
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Fulk on October 02, 2020, 02:12:03 pm
Quote
The image a beardy caver in grots on a ladder, hiding under a texolex and stinky with a dog end glued to a lip is not that out of date in some respects  ;D

Really? I don't hink I've seen such a creature this century (and for several years before).
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Pitlamp on October 02, 2020, 03:50:34 pm

"At what point does the risk of lung cancer from Radon exposure get similar to the risk from smoking?"


Doug Nash would have been the man to ask on this one, he smoked cigarettes from the age of 11, started smoking a pipe 18hrs a day in his 50s, because cigarettes were bad for him.

He spent most of his life in Radon riddled mines (work and play) and lived in a high radon area in Eyam

Lived to 95

But didn't Doug suffer throat cancer long before he passed away from other causes? He was one of the lucky ones who was successfully treated for it. It seems likely that the pipe was to blame, together with the cigarettes before it.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: bograt on October 02, 2020, 06:01:29 pm

"The image a beardy caver in grots on a ladder, hiding under a texolex and stinky with a dog end glued to a lip is not that out of date in some respects  ;D"

I've retired from active caving now  ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: pwhole on October 02, 2020, 10:47:28 pm
Lurking on someone's phone is a photo of me at the top of Rowter Hole shaft waiting to go down, with a rather large cone in my mouth. And I'd shaved only that morning. I honestly don't know what to think about it - I smoke, and I cave primarily in Castleton, though I try to avoid 'pointless' trips generally. I guess I too have to hope for genetic benefits, as it's probably too late to make that much difference now. I smoke less than I used to, and I've certainly caved less since lockdown, but I suspect one or two trips a week for a lot of years is hard to wipe out.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: adep on October 16, 2020, 10:37:20 pm
I did some Radon measurements for Manchester university about 12 years ago, we didn’t find Giants that bad at the time, although as stated it can vary a lot, knowing what I know I would be far more wary of Oxlow, especially in the large chambers at the bottom, we found very high readings there, to the point where I won’t go into Oxlow/ Maskill more than a couple of times a year
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Pitlamp on October 17, 2020, 08:31:35 am
What time of year was that Giants study done Adep, out of interest?

I try not to think what sort of dose we must have got on all the round the clock trips in Peak Cavern's Far Sump Extension before the JH and Titan surface connections were made, allowing draughts to begin. Thank goodness I don't smoke.
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: adep on October 30, 2020, 01:06:42 am
What time of year was that Giants study done Adep, out of interest?

I try not to think what sort of dose we must have got on all the round the clock trips in Peak Cavern's Far Sump Extension before the JH and Titan surface connections were made, allowing draughts to begin. Thank goodness I don't smoke.

I. would have to check, but i think it would have been about March time
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Groundhog on October 30, 2020, 09:54:50 am
Quote
The image a beardy caver in grots on a ladder, hiding under a texolex and stinky with a dog end glued to a lip is not that out of date in some respects  ;D

Really? I don't think I've seen such a creature this century (and for several years before).

(http://)

From 2007   ;D
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Fulk on October 30, 2020, 11:13:35 am
Thank you Groundhog . . . I stand corrected!
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: T pot 2 on October 30, 2020, 01:57:14 pm
 :stunning photo of AG in the middle
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Wardy on October 30, 2020, 07:10:19 pm
And that T-Pot sort of reinforces the how long ago it was!

Agree it is a good shot of him indulging in a typical activity
Title: Re: Radon in Giants
Post by: Dickie on October 31, 2020, 12:47:22 am
I recall Tim Lewis coming through the first (short) sump in KMC with a lit fag end on his tongue in his mouth. Got a couple of puffs out of it before it got dripped on.