All You Need to Know About Radon

The risks of radon are well known, but how do you find out if your property is affected and what can you do about it? Michael Hancock from Glencoe Radon Gas Centre Ltd explains

  • What is radon? Where does it come from?

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that comes from the decay of Uranium238 in the earth’s crust, it is present in every building, everywhere, usually at low levels and forms roughly 50% of our annual radiation dose. It is measured in Becquerels Per Cubic Metre (Bq-m3

  • What are the health risks of radon?

Radon emits alpha particles. When inhaled, radon progeny can become trapped in the lung’s cells, Ionising radiation is emitted and can damage the DNA structure in the lung. Over time, this can cause the DNA cell to mutate into a cancerous cell. Radon gas is the highest cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, according to UKHSA, 1,100 people die each year in the UK alone from radon gas. 

  • Who is particularly at risk from radon?

Depending on your radon levels in your home or workplace, and the time spent in elevated levels, your risk can be elevated. Children can be susceptible to radon, as their lungs are still developing. The only way to know what your levels are and what your risk from radon is, is to test. 

  • How can I find out whether my property is affected by radon?

Carry out a simple radon test. A radon test takes 90 days. Radon detectors are placed and left alone for three months before being returned for analysis. In a home, one detector is placed in the living room and one is placed in the master bedroom. The results from these two detectors are calculated with a seasonal factor variation for the time of year the test was carried out, to provide an annual average result. This is the most accurate way to test and the only method recognised by UKHSA. If you have a large property, additional detectors can be placed, for example in an extension, cellar or second bedroom. Non-domestic properties are tested using the same detectors, for the same duration, but the analysis of the detectors is slightly different. 

  • What regulations cover legislative compliance for radon? 

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to provide safe working areas for employees. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require a risk assessment to be carried out to the working area, this should include a radon test to ensure employees are not exposed to Ionising Radiation above 1 mSv per year. If a workplace is tested and reveals levels above 300 Bqm-3 Annual Average, the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 apply. HSE must be informed and exposure to staff must be reduced immediately, usually by remediating the radon levels. 

Landlords have a responsibility to provide a safe home to their tenants under The Housing Act 2004. The domestic action level is 200 Bq-m3. If a property is found to have levels above this, remedial action must be taken to reduce the levels, with the aim to reduce to below the Target Level of 100 Bq-m3

  • How does a radon survey work and how long does it take?

A radon remedial survey consists of a radon remediation professional visiting the site to inspect the characteristics of the building, looking at the construction type, floor types, wall thickness and ventilation. Using their knowledge and experience, the surveyor will design a suitable system to reduce the radon levels in that particular building. The surveyor may or may not use an instant radon testing instrument, but these do not necessarily help, as radon gas moves and levels fluctuate constantly. 

  • How much does it cost to have my home or place of work surveyed for radon?

Cots vary between domestic and non-domestic properties. Typically a remedial survey will cost around £150-180. Some contractors though offer a dela where the cost of the survey is deducted off the cost of the remedial installation, if you choose them to carry out the work. 

  • What can I do to protect against radon?

With a new build, radon protection can be built in. Primary protection comprises of a radon barrier across the footprint of the building. Secondary protection (full protection) comprises of a radon sump installed beneath the radon barrier, connected to a vent pipe capped off in a desirable location in readiness. If building an extension, both the extension and the existing building should be protected from radon, as you are changing the characteristics of the building. 

  • What’s the story behind Glencoe?

Glencoe Radon Gas Centre Ltd was incorporated in November 1992 by Philip Hancock. In the early 90’s, Phil developed the now well-known method of radon sub-floor depressurisation using a radon sump, in fact, we held the patent on the radon sump. In 2009, I developed the Mini Sump, which we hold an active patent on. Our business is based in Weston-super-Mare and we cover the UK. We have vast experience in reducing radon levels across all types of buildings, from listed period buildings to modern office blocks and schools. We also manufacture and supply our own Glencoe-Radvac® products. 

  • Where can I find out more about radon and Glencoe?

Our website has lots of information on our company and radon gas.

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