The Radon Risk in the Home

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What is radon?

Radon is a colourless gas that naturally occurs, It is made when Uranium and Thoron in the earths crust decay over time. The radon gas then diffuses through the ground and is released into the air. Most of the time if you breathe radon in, you exhale it immediately, the problem does not lie here. When radon decays it decays into short lived radioactive particles. When you breath in radon these short lived radioactive particles can settle in your lungs as they are solid. As these particles decay they release alpha particles which causes alpha irradiation of cells, thus damaging them.

Radon is everywhere as it is naturally expelled from the earth. Generally speaking outdoors the radon diffuses through the air, and is in such small concentrations it is not an issue. However in buildings and homes the levels can build up, because it is trapped in.

What is the risk?

The alpha irradiation of your lung cells can lead to lung cancer. A study found that radon is the cause of 9% of lung cancer deaths. The effects of radon are more significant if you are, or ever have been a smoker. More than 85% of radon-induced lung cancer deaths are among smokers.

How you can tell if your property is at risk?

The government supplies an interactive map service. The map covers the whole of the UK and you can search your postcode to check your area. The map is colour coded and gives each area a %. This percentage is the percentage chance that the houses in this are have an actionable level of radon (the actionable level is an annual average of 200 becquerels per cubic metre (200 Bq m-3) or above).

Visit the UK radon map here.

If your property is in an area affected by radon you you investigate further. You can order a home testing kit which you place in your home. The kit sits in your home for 3 months and monitors the level of radon, you then post it back and await results.

What to do next

High levels of radon in your home leaves you at risk of health issues down the line and you must take action. There are a number of ways to reduce the level of radon in your home.

  • Radon Sumps – These are the most effective way of reducing radon levels, they work best under solid floors, or suspended concrete. Sumps are relatively cheap to install, ranging from £800 to £2,000.
  • Positive ventilation – This is where a small fan blows fresh air into the building.
  • Natural under floor ventilation – This is for suspended floors only. Increasing the ventilation to the sub floor voids can greatly reduce the levels of radon in the home.
  • Active under floor ventilation – Like natural underfloor ventilation this only works with suspended floors. A small fan blows air through the sub floor void to provide better ventilation.

Radon is a risk to health, however you can make yourself safer with easy fixes. It is really important that if your property is in a radon risk area you check the levels in your home. Lastly for more information please visit the government information site here.

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