Radon

Chris Pickersgill
Radon is a colourless, odourless radioactive gas. It comes from the radioactive decay of radium, which in turn comes from the radioactive decay of uranium, found in small quantities in all soils and rocks. The amount varies from place-to-place.

Where is radon found?

  • Radon is present in all parts of the UK

  • The gas disperses outdoors so levels are generally very low

  • Radon is particularly prevalent in granite and limestone areas but not exclusively so

  • Some of the highest radon levels have been found in the southwest

  • Levels well above average have been found in some other parts of the UK

  • Radon levels vary not only between different parts of the country but even between neighbouring buildings

  • UK Radon , part of the Health Protection Agency , publishes maps and reports , as a starting point.

Why is radon dangerous?

When radon decays it forms tiny radioactive particles which may be breathed into the lungs. Radiation from these particles can cause lung cancer which may take many years to develop. In addition, smoking and exposure to radon are known to work together to greatly increase the risk of developing lung cancer.

What level is acceptable?

The government has set guideline maximum levels for radon concentration inside buildings. These are referred to as Action Levels, indicating a need for remedial attention.

  • In domestic properties, the Action Level is 200 Bq/m3

  • In commercial properties the Action Level is 400 Bq/m3

  • The average background radon concentration outside is 4 bq/m3

  • The average radon level inside buildings is 20Bq/m3

Whose responsibility?

Under UK regulations all employers must review the potential radon hazard in their premises, even if they're not in a high-risk area. Where radon is present above the defined level, employers are required to take action. The HSE and local authorities are responsible for enforcing these regulations in workplaces.

Meeting the responsibility

Faithful+Gould supports estate holders with their radon responsibilities. We identify which premises are likely to have elevated radon levels and then set up an initial three month period of monitoring several areas of the building.   

Remedial measures

The Health Protection Agency analyses the results and gives guidance and recommendations.  If remedial measures are necessary, our building surveyors can

  • Carry out a design survey at each property

  • Procure the works via the client's preferred contractor or a specialist radon contractor

  • Liaise with the contractor, who produces drawings and schedules of work

  • Liaise with the statutory bodies to obtain consents for the works (Building Regulations, Listed Building Consent, Planning Permission and Landlord's Consent)

  • Co-ordinate the works across all buildings

  • Ensure that the works are carried out in accordance with the design.

Ongoing support

Further monitoring is carried out to check that the works have been successful. To ensure full compliance with the legislation, the local authority is informed of the monitoring results and kept up to date with progress of the planned works.

Informing staff

Under the legislation, staff who work in areas affected by radon must be briefed on its potential impact and informed of the action to be taken. Our building surveyors can do this as part of the monitoring process.