The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) through its Radiation Protection Institute (RPI) has established a new Radon Laboratory with a new state-of-the-art radon monitoring system.
The Institute now uses the Radosys RadoMeter 2000 monitoring system, which is the first of its kind in Africa.
Radon monitoring in Ghana started in the 1990s at but the program has over the years been faced with limited infrastructure, including obsolete equipment and laboratory workspace among others.
The laboratory is a follow-up to efforts being made to establish collaboration between the GAEC and the Regional Agency for radiation protection in Ivrea, Piemonte and Udine, FVG, all in Italy.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that exists in the atmosphere in trace amounts. It is a gas that one cannot smell, taste or see and presents considerable health consequences such as lung cancer.
The lung cancer is known to kill thousands of humans every year, of which radon is the number one cause among non-smokers according to the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.
Director General of the GAEC, Prof B.J.B Nyarko said their quest to meet growing demands for radiation protection services, RPI/GAEC decided to expand and modernize its environmental laboratories with the state-of-the-art facilities in order to perform more accurate measurements and establishment of standards.
“The inauguration of the Radon laboratory will, therefore, go a long way to improve research, training and technical services in the areas of radiation protection and safety at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission and create public awareness about the harmful effect of ionizing radiation and radon in particular,” he said at the inauguration Wednesday.
The new radon laboratory is expected to facilitate radon research and training across the country while offering students, researchers and others a unique opportunity to explore areas that extend beyond the boundaries of conventional academics within their faculties.
The new radon laboratory will aid in acquiring data, which will be very important in formulating guidelines for radon exposure mapping and strategy for the control of radiation exposure in Ghana.
“Data on radon could be used for studying seismic activities to predict earthquake occurrence and exploring for uranium resources. It is also used for determining the movement of Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere in relation to climate change,” Prof Nyarko added.
He urged the staff of the Commission to avail themselves of the opportunity with determination and commitment to fully abreast with current standards and recommendations in radiation protection, and safety.
It will also create a programmatic focus to multidisciplinary research that helps the Institute to attract new research collaboration and external funding.
The new Radon Laboratory will also create incremental demands for GAEC research in the form of funding and human resource capacity building in Ghana.