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How Do I Test For Radon?

A radon measurement is easy to complete, make sure you use a validated laboratory. PHE runs the validation scheme for laboratories and is a validated laboratory too.

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Where Is Radon Gas Found?

Although radon is odourless and colourless it is a radioactive gas. Radon is everywhere; formed from the uranium in all rocks and soils. Outdoors everywhere and indoors in many areas the radon levels are low and the risk to health is small. The darker the colour on the radon maps, the greater the chance of a high radon level in a building. However not all buildings, even in the darkest areas, have high levels.

Every building contains radon but the levels are usually low. In some parts of the country homes may have higher levels, and the chances of a higher level depend on the type of ground. For instance, levels may be higher in parts of the country rich in granite, such as Dartmoor in Devon and Cornwall. You can see how badly your area is affected by Radon by looking on this map

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What Is A Safe Level?

Radon is measured in units called becquerels, and these are calculated per cubic metre. Generally speaking, a level below 100 Bq/m³ is considered low risk, and the UK average is far below this at 20 Bq/m³. As the radon level rises past the 100 Bq/m³ point, the risk begins to increase.

Testing radon levels is simple, and merely involves placing a radon testing device in your home for at least 7 days to ensure an accurate reading is gathered. If you live in an area where radon gas levels are likely to be high, it is recommended that you test your home.

There are various types of testing kits to check for radon in the home. You can test this yourself, or call in the experts, if you want to get professional assistance. We recommend that action to reduce radon levels is taken if the annual average radon concentration in a property is at or above the Action Level of 200 Bq m-3.

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Testing For Radon Gas

Testing is easy. You place a plastic detector about the size of a biscuit in your living room, another in your bedroom and leave them for three months. After that you post them off and your radon level is calculated. If the level is high you can take steps to reduce radon levels in your home. For most homeowners, a short-term radon test is perfectly adequate and measures levels for up to a week.

A radon measurement is easy to complete, make sure you use a validated laboratory . PHE runs the validation scheme for laboratories and is a validated laboratory too. If you wish to purchase a test you can visit the UK Radon website. You will then be posted two detectors to place in your home: one in the living area and one in an occupied bedroom.

After three months you post the detectors back to UK Radon in the pre-paid envelope provided. Public Health for England can analyse the detectors and post the results to you: the cost is £51.60 inc. VAT.

Whichever type of kit you choose, make sure it complies with relevant industry standards.

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What to do if Your Home Has Radon

The EPA recommends doing a second test if an initial short-term test registers 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher. A long-term test will give you the most accurate information, but a short-term test is acceptable if you need the results quickly, such as for a real estate transaction, or your first levels registered 8 pCi/L or higher.

If a second test registers above 4 pCi/L, consider taking steps to reduce radon levels in your home.

It is also possible for radon to enter your home through your water supply, though this is a much lower risk than radon entering your home through the soil. If you have a private well, you can have it tested for radon. If the levels are high, you can have the water supply treated so that the radon is removed before it enters your home. If you are concerned about radon and your water comes from a public water supply, you should contact your supplier.

As with most home repairs, the cost of reducing radon in your home can vary widely, depending on how your home is built. 

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Six Important Facts About Radon

1) Radon is odourless and tasteless meaning you can't smell it so can never know if you are in the presence of Radon gas. 

2) Radon is a gas, meaning it can easily seep into your home without you knowing.

3) There is a 'safe-level' of Radon, a level below 100 Bq/m³ is considered low risk, and the UK average is far below this at 20 Bq/m³. As the radon level rises past the 100 Bq/m³ point, the risk begins to increase.

4) Some parts of the UK are worse affected than others. You can explore this Radon interactive map to see how badly your area is. 

5) Radon can cause lung cancer. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. 

6) Radon levels can be reduced, simply by installing a ventilation system you can drastically reduce the level of Radon in your property. 

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What Can You Do?

If you find out that your home contains high levels of radon gas, don't panic! There are simple solutions to reduce the amount of radon, and keep you and your family safe.

Remedial work 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. Completely sealing floors is difficult and can cause rot in wooden floors.

At EnviroVent, we offer a range of ventilation systems for your whole house, which improve your air quality and effectively deal with radon.

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