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Radon Gas

Radon gas is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium found in rocks, sediments and water. It then permeates up through the ground and in open air dilutes to harmless levels in the atmosphere. However, when it enters our homes and work places it decays into minute solid particles known as Radon's Daughters.

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When particles of Radon become trapped in a property they can accumulate to dangerously high levels. When they are breathed in they can be deposited on the surface of the lungs, where they decay further, emitting harmful radiation directly into the lungs. Radon exposure, therefore, means you have a high risk of lung cancer. 

Public Health England have issued advice and guidance on Radon in homes including what the action level Radon needs to be at and the data taken in 2016 for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Radon_gas_causes_lung_cancer

Radon penetration occurs in many thousands of homes in the UK, particularly in the East Midlands and the South West but there are pockets just about everywhere in the country. It is common in and around granite and other igneous rocks and soil where the gas is transferred through the pores in the rock.

It is interesting to note that not all granitic regions are prone to high emissions of radon, Aberdeen, for instance, commonly known as the Granite City, is situated on very radium rich rock.

Radon gas is measured in Becquerel’s per cubic metre and, according to UKradon (the UK’s reference site on radon from the Health Protection Agency), the UK Action Level for Radon in Homes is at or above 200Bq m-3. This is a high radon level for a property and requires intervention in order to reduce radon levels. You can see the level of Radon in your area by using the Public Health England's interactive map

Radon_affects_many_homes

The biggest health risks associated with Radon gas is lung complications, mainly lung cancer. 

Early signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • persistent cough
  • coughing up blood
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • hoarseness
  • chest pain, especially when you cough or laugh
  • frequent infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia

Over time, you may also experience loss of appetite, weight loss, and fatigue.

Aberdeen_is_situated_on_radium_rich_rock

Radiation protection should be taken very seriously especially because of the detrimental effect it can have on your health.The Public Health England guide to radon is very extensive and breaks down everything you need to know with regards to radon. 

Although there is no yearly average radon level you can find out which areas of the uk are more prone to having higher levels of radon than others, you can also find that information on the UKradon website. 

testing for radon

However, the rock lacks the pores/cracks required for the radon to migrate whereas in other radium rich areas, such as Devon and Cornwall, the radon is able to escape from the rock. These areas often have very high radon measurements. Whilst Radon permeates up through the ground and dilutes to harmless levels in the atmosphere, it can enter buildings exposing the occupants to a dose of radiation.

Radon affected areas should actively seek help and look to reduce these higher levels. Some simple actions such as sealing around loft-hatches, sealing large openings in floors and extra ventilation do not reduce radon levels on their own. When combined with other effective measures, they can improve the reduction of radon levels. The Environmental Health Department of your local council may be able to offer advice. For levels in excess of 1000 Bq m-3 you may wish to contact PHE for advice.

Radon_can_enter_buildings_from_ground

In order to test your property for this radioactive gas, you can either purchase a detector or if you are concerned you live in an area with high levels of indoor radon, and need to be sure about the results a short term test would be best. 

Radon detectors are safe and simple to use, they can sit on a shelf. The hollow plastic shell contains a piece of clear plastic that records the damage caused by radon. The detectors do not emit anything and do not collect anything dangerous. However, they can be damaged by heat or submersion in water and should not be opened.

Radon levels in houses vary substantially from day to day as they are influenced by weather conditions. The Action Level refers to the annual average concentration in a home. For this reason, it is preferred that radon measurements are carried out with two detectors (in a living area and bedroom) and are conducted over a reasonable period of time, typically three months. This averages out short-term fluctuations. Tests that are carried out over shorter periods will have greater uncertainty and are more likely to lead to ambiguous and inconclusive results.

How to measure radon gas

Positive ventilation brings fresh air into a home, and dilutes the radon. The flow of air and radon from the ground may also be reduced. A positive ventilation system can be effective in homes with radon levels up to and around 500 Bq m-3.

Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) work as a whole house ventilation system and create fresh and healthy living environments by supplying fresh, filtered air into a property at a continuous rate throughout.The units are either situated in the loft in a house, or on a wall in an apartment to deliver whole house ventilation. They operate quietly in the background, eliminating condensation and preventing mould whilst maintaining healthy indoor air. All of our PIV units are fitted with an ultra-low watt motor to ensure minimum energy consumption.

Positive Input Ventilation reduces radon gas levels
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