Hazard substances - Radon

What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring odourless, colourless radioactive gas that gets into homes through floors and walls. High levels of radiation have been associated with an increased incidence of lung cancer, particularly when its exposure is long term and combined with cigarette smoking.

The Health Protection Agency and the British Geological Survey have set up a website where it is possible to check whether a particular address is in a radon affected area (there is a fee of £3.53 for this search).

How do I test for radon?

The only way to check the radon levels in a house is to have a test carried out. Companies providing radon testing & further support can be obtained from the Radon Council

How can I reduce radon levels in my home?

There are five main ways to reduce radon levels in a domestic property

  • Install a radon sump system
  • Improve ventilation under a suspended floor
  • Use positive ventilation
  • Seal cracks and gaps in solid concrete floors 
  • Change the way the property is ventilated

Radon in the workplace

What areas are affected?
Most workplaces in Great Britain do not have significant radon levels.  However, it has been shown that premises built on certain types of ground found mostly in Cornwall and Devon, but also in some parts of Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Grampian and the Highlands of Scotland, are more likely to have high indoor radon levels.

Which workplaces are affected?
The construction of a building is an important factor because radon seeps up from the ground and is drawn into buildings through cracks in the floors and gaps around the pipes, cables, drains etc.  As well as geographical location, ventilation in the workplace is another important factor.  Radon levels are generally low in workshops and other well ventilated workplaces.  However, problems have been found in more confined workplaces such as shops, offices and public buildings where rates of ventilation are relatively low.

Am I exposed to radon at work?
Radon concentrations in workplace buildings can also reach quite high levels.  You should discuss the matter with your employer and ask them to contact the Health and Safety Executive, your local authority - Northampton Borough Council or The National Radiological Protection Board for advice on the need for measurements.

I am an employer.  Do I need to measure the exposure of my employees?
You should contact the local Health and Safety Executive area office or the Environmental Health Department of Northampton Borough Council (whichever you normally deal with for health and safety matters) for advice on whether the regulations are likely to affect your business.  Further guidance is available in the Building Research Establishment Report BR293 Radon in the workplace.