The Radon Map of Britain identifies areas in the UK that are considered to be of high risk, but it is vital to remember that this map is only a guide and that radon levels vary from property to property. The reality is that high radon levels can be found in properties anywhere in the country and the risk cannot be accurately assessed without an individual test to a property regardless of where that property is geographically.
Understanding Radon Levels
For the majority of UK residents radon accounts for around 50% of their annual radiation dosage, with the remainder coming from other natural sources such as gamma and cosmic rays or artificial sources such as medical procedures.
Radon is measured in Becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3) and the radon Action Level for homes has been set by the UK Government as 200Bq/m3. This means that if testing is carried out and the results show that the radon level is above 200 Bq/m3, it is recommended by Public Health England (formerly the Health Protection Agency) that you take steps to reduce the radon level.
But What Exactly Does 200 Bq/m3 Of Radon Mean, And What Is It Doing To Your Body?
The adverse effects of radon exposure have now been recognised for over 20 years and there is a proven link between long term exposure to high radon levels and lung cancer. Radon is a radioactive gas so by spending time in a property with high concentrations of gas, either knowingly or unknowingly, you are effectively breathing in radioactive particles. Not something that anybody would choose to do, we’d bet.
With so much talk about Bequerels, it is easy to get lost in the science and switch off before you really understand the health implications, so we’ve put together some examples that should help you to realise why radon is such an important issue:
The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) has calculated that if an individual spent 8 hours per day in a building with average radon levels of 200 Bq/m3, the radiation dose that person’s lungs would receive over one year would be the equivalent to if they had undergone 112 chest x-rays.
Once radon levels exceed approximately 600 Bq/m3, each and every person in the building will be receiving the equivalent radiation dose to at least one chest x-ray per 8-hour period.
Put another way, spending time inhaling high radon concentrations can cause damage to your lungs just like smoking does. Everybody knows that smoking causes lung cancer, but how many people realise that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the UK? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the USA have calculated that spending 8 hours in a building with radon levels of 200 Bq/m3 leads to the equivalent lung damage as if you’d smoked 5 and a half cigarettes during that same period. If the radon level in your home or workplace is 750 Bq/m3 or more (and you spend at least 8 hours there), the lung damage you’re receiving is the equivalent of a pack-a-day smoker.
What Should You Do?
Get your property tested. It’s easy to do and is not expensive. Investing in a radon testing kit from PropertECO will give you an accurate representation on the radon levels in that building, and give you an indication of whether you need to take action to reduce the levels. There are simple and effective measures available to bring radon levels down to acceptable levels. When you understand the risks, you’ll wonder why you didn’t act sooner.
For more information on our radon testing services call today on 0800 046 6193 and speak to a member of our expert team. We have years of experience working to reduce radon levels in homes and work places and are always on hand to offer you impartial advice.