CORRELATING RADON ACTIVITY WITH CARBON DIOXIDE CONCENTRATION IN AN IOWA CAVE By Lawrence Welch

Lawrence E. Welch*, Yu-An I. Chen, Mark D. Jones, Christopher L. Beck
Knox College
Galesburg, Illinois, USA
lwelch@knox.edu

Abstract

Reports of encountering “bad air” have occasionally resulted from humans entering cave passages with high levels of carbon dioxide.  Humans breathing high concentrations of carbon dioxide will note obvious physiological impacts, ranging from breathlessness up to death at extreme values.  Numerous caves have been shown to feature “bad air” in the form of high levels of radon gas, but instrumentation is required for this to be diagnosed.  Although the sources that bring carbon dioxide and radon into the caves are different, it is plausible that poor ventilation of a cave’s interior is a contributing factor toward that cave having high levels of either gas.  This study was set up to measure the levels of both gases simultaneously in an Iowa cave, and to evaluate how highly correlated these values are to one another.

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