What is Radon and should I be concerned?
Radon is an inert, colourless, odourless and radioactive gas originating from naturally occurring radioactive elements in bedrock – in particular uranium rich shale and granite. Radon is also found in natural and anthropogenic soils, and sometimes in building materials. As highlighted by the HSE the radioactive gas Radon is a hazard in many homes and workplaces. Breathing in Radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer in the UK resulting in up to 2000 fatal cancers per year.
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Radon Testing - All You Need To Know
Radon Gas And Your Health
It is widely recognised that high exposure to Radon over a prolonged period of time increases the risk of lung cancer to occupiers. Radon affects our health by producing a radioactive dust in the air we breathe. The dust is trapped in our airways and emits radiation that damages the inside of our lungs. This damage, like the damage caused by smoking, increases our risk of lung cancer.
Legislation: The Employers Responsibility In The Workplace
Ultimately under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the employer bears principle responsibility for ensuring the health and safety of employees and others whom have access to the working environment. The danger level of exposure to Radon at work is specified in the Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99), which implement the majority of the Basic Safety Standards Directive 96/29/Euratom. For most practical purposes IRR99 apply where the average Radon levels, measured in winter months, exceeds 400 Bq/cubic metre for commercial buildings.
First and foremost a risk assessment for Radon should be carried out specifically targeting those premises which occupy ground floors and basements. Green Zone Surveys can undertake such risk assessments and by using the data obtained we are able to promptly identify and tackle those areas which require immediate attention for potentially harmful levels of Radon Gas.
Measurement equipment should be installed to obtain air samples for scientific analysis. Radon gas is measured in bacquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3) and for Commercial Properties the recommended level where action should be taken is 400 Bq/m3. It is important that the placement locations of the sensors should reflect occupancy patterns and be in secure places where they cannot be tampered with. Green Zone Surveys are happy to install, collect and analyse all the data for complete peace of mind. The recommended number for small premises would be at least 2 detectors and larger buildings should install at least 1 per 100m2. Where significant changes are made to the fabric of a building or to the work processes carried out within it then the need to re-measure the Radon levels should be considered. It is recommended for readings significantly less than 400 Bq/m3 re-measure should be considered once every 10 years, over 400 then every 5 years. Often the first obvious solution would be to seal cracks, gaps and holes in floors and walls to prevent Radon entering the building, however, in practice it has been found in most cases reductions were disappointing.
One effective way may be to increase ventilation rates by installing a manufactured ventilation system which compromises of a small fan to blow fresh air into the building. Whatever the findings Green Zone Surveys will endeavour to find the right solution to any problem.