What is Radon?
Radon is a gas, which is produced
naturally in rocks and soils and is radioactive. Normally, the gas
is diluted in the open air, but it may concentrate in buildings,
entering through small cracks and gaps. Radon has no smell, colour
or taste so it is very difficult to detect.
How Radon can affect you
Radon decays into tiny
radioactive particles which when inhaled, expose the lungs to
radiation. This increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
On average, about one in thirty
people exposed for a lifetime to high concentrations of Radon would
be expected to develop lung cancer.
Radon is the second largest cause
of lung cancer after smoking.
The risk of developing lung
cancer from Radon increases significantly if you also smoke.
Who Regulates Radon Issues
The Council's Building Control
team along with other building control service providers
ensure appropriate radon assessments are carried out for new build
The Council's Regulation Unit ensure
employers in offices, shops, warehouses, places used for leisure
activities and other non-industrial premises undertake appropriate
The Council's Housing Team ensure
private rented property landlords undertake appropriate radon
The Health and Safety Executive ensure
employers in factories and industrial activities undertake radon
Radon affected areas
Radon levels vary between different
parts of the country and even between neighbouring properties. The
average level of Radon in houses is 20 Becquerels per cubic metre
(Bq/m3). An annual average of 200 Bq/m3 is
considered to be the Action Level; above this
level, steps should be taken to reduce the radon in the
Parts of the UK where 1% or more of
homes are above the Action Level have been declared to be
Radon Affected Areas. This includes part of Amber
Checking for Radon in the home
You can obtain an estimate of the
probability that an individual property is above the Action
Level for radon from the http://www.ukradon.org/ website; this
website is run by the Health Protection Agency
(HPA) and the British
Geological Survey (BGS).
The only reliable guide to the
level of radon in a building is a measurement over a period long
enough to average out short-term variations in radon levels, this
should ideally be three months. The procedure uses passive monitors
that are simple to use and can be sent by post. The result for each
home is confidential and the Council is not informed of
the results. This service is provided by the HPA
Provided by the
HPA, this service provides an early indication of
the likely result after only a couple of weeks. This can be
useful for testing the effect of mitigation work or when planning
structural changes to a building. Short-term measurements will be
inconclusive in some cases. Screening tests can be helpful provided
they are conducted in addition to the standard three-month
The HPA provides a
one page report on the radon potential for a home. This report
provides advice on radon potential and includes brief advice
on what to do next.
Reducing Radon Levels
This may include installing a sump
that redirects the gas, using ventilation fans or sealing the
floors. The cost of remedial work can vary from £200 to £1500.
Where you need to hire a builder to carry out remedial work you
should choose someone who is experienced in Radon Treatment.
Builders can be found from the Building Employers
Confederation or the Federation of Master
Buying or selling a house in a Radon
If the property is a new house, you
should find out whether protection was included when it was built.
If it is an older house, you may wish to have a test done
once you have moved in. Remedial work can be carried out
afterwards, if necessary, in the same way as damp problems or
If there is a high risk that there
will be a problem with the property, you may wish to renegotiate
the price or agree a bond to cover remedial costs should they
subsequently prove necessary. Since Radon is routinely controlled,
it should not be seen as a reason for not buying a particular