Radon gas is a colourless and odourless gas that is released naturally by the decay of radioactive elements in the ground. While Radon gas is found in tiny quantities in most places, local geology in some areas of the country can cause substantial increases in the amount of Radon that is present, and it can reach levels where it presents a serious health risk.
Radon gas seeps up through the ground and into buildings through gaps in flooring and through windows and doors. The gas is radioactive, and as it decays it releases ionising radiation that can contaminate dust particles that may be inhaled into the lungs where it can cause damage to tissues and increase the risk of cancer. Every year, approximately 1,100 people die in the UK as a result of lung cancer caused by radon gas.
The radioactive decay of uranium in the earth’s crust releases Radon gas and it seeps up through the soil and into buildings where it can become trapped.
The levels of Radon in an area are dependent on the local geology. In the UK, there are higher levels of Radon in the Southwest of England, throughout Wales, in the Pennine and Chiltern mountains, and in parts of Scotland. If you live in an area which has higher levels of Radon Gas, you may already use a monitor to track the amount of gas that is present in the air.
Radon is present at very low levels almost everywhere in the country, however in areas with higher concentrations it can build up to dangerous levels in enclosed spaces such as houses or office buildings.
The government recommends a target level of 100 Becquerels per cubic metre in homes and has set an “action” level of 200 Becquerels per cubic meter, above which mitigation measures such as improved ventilation or a Radon Sump should be installed to protect health. In order to measure the levels of Radon in a home, a detector is set up which collects data over a period of several months. You can buy these from some DIY stores, but to ensure proper measurement, they are normally placed by a professional as part of a radon survey.
When the radioactive dust created by the decay of Radon gas (radon daughters) is inhaled, it can become trapped in the airways. The dust releases ionising radiation that damages cells and can lead to the development of lung cancer. Every year, Radon Gas causes an estimated 1,100 avoidable deaths from lung cancer in the UK.
The danger from radon gas increases based on its concentration in the air in your home. Improved air flow from a ventilation system is an effective way of preventing radon build up. Positive Input Ventilation Systems draw fresh air in from outside the building to replace the indoor air, and this gently circulates the air in the building carrying the radon gas outside where it escapes into the atmosphere.
If you live in a high-risk area for Radon Gas, it is important to take steps to protect your health. Arranging a professional Radon Survey is the first step in understanding what levels of gas are present in your home.
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