Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which is both colourless and odourless. It is formed by the radioactive decay of the small amounts of uranium that occur naturally in many rocks and soils.
It poses the second greatest risk of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for the most significant component of background radiation dose that the UK population is exposed to, and due to its potentially hazardous nature, employers have a duty to protect their workforce and ensure they understand the level of potential exposure.
Most radon breathed in by an individual is immediately exhaled and presents little radiological hazard. Some of these decay products emit particularly hazardous radiation known as alpha particles, which cause significant damage to the sensitive cells in the lungs. In 2010 an HSE report concluded that 48% of the average UK radiation dose came from radioactive radon gas in the ground.
High Risk Areas can be simply checked on the Interactive Map using this link: https://www.ukradon.org/information/ukmaps
Radon is detectable and measurable using a recognised and specific radon monitoring device. Typically, a single monitoring phase lasts for a three-month period. However, to ensure that seasonal variations are determined, an assessment over a period of 12 months (four monitoring phases) is required. This ensures that results can be averaged over a year-long period to allow for a comparison against the annual average limit of 300 Bq/m3, as stated in the Ionising Radiation Regulations (IRR17). Where annual radon monitoring confirms average results exceeding 300 Bq/m3, the Ionising Radiation Regulations (IRR17) apply, which require employers to take action to limit exposures.
Risk control measures can include improved underfloor and indoor ventilation, sealing large gaps in floors and walls in contact with the ground, positive ventilation of occupied areas and the installation of radon sumps and extraction pipework.