Professor Gavin Gillmore is Head of Kingston University's School of Geography, Geology and the Environment. One of his chief interests is in the study of radon – a naturally-occurring radioactive gas which comes from the decay of uranium in rocks and soils. When radon comes out into the open air, it quickly dilutes to harmless concentrations; however, when it builds up in an enclosed space it can become a real health hazard. Radon in homes and workplaces is a suggested cause for 3 to 5% of lung cancer deaths (around 2,000 per year) in the UK.
Professor Gillmore has been investigating the use of 3D laser scanning microscopes for improved monitoring of radon gas concentrations. Currently, radon gas are assessed through 2D analysis that may underestimate the gas concentrations present, or not be as accurate as one might like for risk assessment purposes.
Through this project, strong links have been developed with the Materials Group at the National Physical Laboratory. The microscope manufacturer Olympus has also been very interested and has offered the team a trial of new equipment to use in the research.
The project is making good progress and the team are currently working on an EU bid for further funding.