Where is Radon a Problem in the UK
Radon gas is created during the process of radioactive decay of Uranium 238 in soil and bedrock everywhere in the world, however some areas have higher natural concentrations of the gas due to their local geology.
The amount of uranium 238 in soil varies in different parts of the country dependent on the types of rock that form the soil. The formation of rocks plays a significant role in the amount of uranium they contain and, as a result of this concentration, the amount of radon gas that is released by them over time.
The rocks that have the highest concentration of uranium 238 are often formed during volcanic eruptions (igneous rocks) including granite. Other rock types can also contain higher amounts of uranium 238 including limestone with a high phosphate content and organic rich shales. The geology of the UK is complex, and these different types of rocks are present in different areas in different amounts.
The areas with the highest concentration of Radon
Across the UK, the areas with the greatest amounts of rocks which release radon into the air include:
- The South West of England (Cornwall, Devon, and Somerset)
- The Pennines
- The Scottish borders and Northeast of England
- Northeast Scotland
- The Border areas of Northern Ireland
Although these areas have higher concentrations of Radon gas in the air, that does not mean that there is automatically a higher risk of developing health problems associated with Radon Gas such as Lung diseases or cancers.
Outdoors, the risk of Radon Gas is minimal – the concentrations are too low to affect your health, however in poorly ventilated spaces with low airflow, the amount of Radon Gas present in the air can be dangerous.
Public Health England recommend that a “safe” level of radiation is 100 Becquerels per cubic metre (this is the number of radioactive particles in a cubic metre of air). Outdoors in the UK, the average level of radiation is 4 Bq/M3, and on average, the level in UK homes is around 20 Bq/M3. These levels are well below the level where there is any serious risk to health.
If Radon gas levels exceed 200 Bq/M3, it is necessary to act in order to make the environment safe and reduce health risks.
The Risk of Radon Gas
Radon gas builds up indoors where there is insufficient ventilation. As the radioactive gas decays, it emits radiation which ionises dust particles – these are known as Radon Daughters. When inhaled, the radioactive dust release alpha particles which are damaging to tissues and can lead to cell mutations that cause cancer.
If you live in an area such as Cornwall which has higher levels of Radon Gas, you should ensure that you are doing all you can to protect your health.
A radon detector in the home will monitor levels of the gas to determine whether you have a problem – if the amount of Radon present is above what are considered safe levels.
What You Can Do
If your property has levels of Radon Gas which are above safe levels, you need to act.
The best way of reducing Radon levels is to ensure that there is good airflow through your home which prevents the concentration of gas from rising to unsafe levels.
This can be done in two ways – either a radon sump or a ventilation system.
A Radon Sump relies on the pressure differential between the top and bottom of your house to draw air out of the property through the foundations. Installing a radon sump on an existing property is an intrusive process that requires professional builders.
A Positive Input Ventilation System can be installed in an existing property and works by drawing in fresh air from outside the building and then pushing it through all rooms before extracting it from the building. This is a highly effective way of reducing radon levels throughout the entire building.
If you are concerned about Radon levels in your area, it is important to act as quickly as possible to protect your health. Speak to one of our local specialists who can arrange a free survey of your property to determine the levels of risk and advise you about the best course of action.