We are excited to announce a new Equiptest service, offering our customers Radon Gas Detection.
What is Radon gas?
Radon is a colourless, odourless radioactive gas. It is formed by the radioactive decay of the small amounts of uranium that occur naturally in all rocks and soils. It is in every building around the world but usually at a safe level.
Where is Radon gas found?
Radon is all around us. Radon gas levels outdoors and in many indoor areas are at a low level and pose only a small health risk. It can enter buildings through small gaps and cracks that have formed, or it can be drawn into the building because the pressure in the building is slightly lower than the pressure in the soil. This pressure difference is caused by the effect of heat in the building and the wind outside it. High levels of radon gas can be found in basements, regardless of their location, so if you have a basement it is important to get it checked.
What are the health risks?
The decay products of Radon gas are named Daughters, and these give off something called alpha radiation particles that can be inhaled into our lungs. Alpha particles contain more energy and are absorbed over a smaller area than beta particles or gamma rays, making them more harmful. Over time if someone inhales these particles it can damage the DNA in their lungs, leading to lung cancer. Statistics show there are between 1100 and 2000 lung cancer deaths each year caused by radon gas and it is the primary cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
How is Radon gas measured and when do you need to act?
Radon is measured in becquerels per cubic metre of air (Bq m-3). The average level in UK homes is 20 Bq m-3. This amount of radiation gives us half our exposure from all sources, so it is important to monitor the radon levels in your home or workplace to ensure they are not too high. If the Radon gas level in your home is below 100 Bq m-3 the risk to health is low and not a cause for concern. Public Health England recommends that radon levels should be reduced in homes where the average is more than 200 Bq m-3, called the Action Level.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires the assessment of Radon as a health and safety risk in workplaces. The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99) come into effect where radon is shown to be above 400 Bq/m3 in a workplace. At this level and above employers are required to take action to restrict exposure. The HSE and Local Authorities are responsible for enforcing these regulations.
How do we monitor Radon Gas?
Although indicative mapping and online sources that provide radon levels by postcode can give you some indication of radon levels in your building, the only way to know for certain is to test the gas levels within your property. The easiest way to do this is to strategically place radon detector monitors throughout your premises. Monitoring is available for domestic homes and commercial properties. Monitors are safe and simple to use, consisting of a hollow plastic shell that holds a piece of plastic that records any damage done by the alpha particles emitted from Radon gas. They can be positioned out of the way on a shelf, for example, so should not affect your daily life. Once the testing period is up the detectors are sent for analysis at an independent lab.
Detectors can be used in the short or long term. Radon levels fluctuate over time and room to room and can also be affected by weather conditions. This means monitoring is ideally carried out over a period of three months to allow for these variations. To test in your home we use two detectors, one in a bedroom and one in the living room. If a property is large there may need to be more detectors to get an accurate reading. In the workplace monitors are placed strategically around the building in areas used widely by employees, avoiding kitchens, toilets, or corridors.
If our investigations show your levels of radon gas are over the Action Level or the recommended Target Level of 100 Bq-m3, we would recommend action is taken. If monitoring of radon in your workplace has shown harmful levels of radon gas we can offer advice on HSE notification. We can provide and install products for radon gas mitigation and removal in existing buildings and new builds. A mitigation system extracts the radon from the soil beneath your property and vents it away from the house through a system of pipes. We can also offer you advice on sealing cracks and openings, in a bid to lower the flow of radon into your home.
Sometimes mitigation can be achieved by installing positive pressurisation. This involves a fan being used to create pressure differences that will help keep radon from entering your property. Heat recovery ventilators may also be used to ensure increased ventilation, with this option being most effective for basements.
Are you concerned about the Radon gas levels in your property?
If you are concerned about radon gas then don’t hesitate to get in touch to arrange a radon gas detection test.