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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
New radon brochure published
Radon in the home and workplace is the largest source of radiation exposure for most people. Living a whole lifetime in a house at the action level, above which householders are advised to reduce their radon level, carries a 3 per cent risk of lung cancer. The National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) has produced a new brochure describing the range of measurement and advisory services that it offers.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which is formed by the decay of the small amounts of uranium present in all rocks and soils. As a gas, radon can move easily through the ground, particularly if it is porous or fissured, to the surface. In the open air, radon disperses rapidly and levels are low. However, in buildings, such as homes, radon can be drawn in through cracks and gaps in the floor and can, in some instances, reach unacceptably high concentrations.
Radon decays to minute radioactive particles which can be breathed in. Some of these particles lodge in the lining of the lungs and irradiate the tissues, thus increasing the risk of lung cancer. In order to limit the risk, the Government has adopted an action level for radon in homes of 200 becquerels per cubic metre of air (Bq m-3). The becquerel is the unit in which radioactivity is measured.
If the radon concentration in a home is found to exceed the action level, the householder is advised to take steps to reduce the concentration. Simple remedies are available and the costs are modest compared to other home improvements. Details of remedies, including guideline costs, have been published by the Government, the Building Research Establishment and NRPB.
The concept of radon affected areas was introduced in 1990 to concentrate attention on radon in those parts of the country where 1 per cent or more of homes are estimated to be at or above the action level. Within affected areas, homeowners should have radon measurements made, and the Government should consider whether to require action against radon in new homes in some localities. NRPB has previously advised on radon affected areas in Cornwall and Devon in 1990, in Derbyshire, Northamptonshire and Somerset in 1992, in Scotland and Northern Ireland in 1993, and for the whole of England and parts of Wales in 1996, for the whole of Wales in 1998 and for the whole of Northern Ireland in 1999.
NRPB has wide experience of the radon issues facing many organizations and can provide authoritative advice to managers and others who wish to evaluate radon risks to tenants or employees and to devise an appropriate monitoring or information programme.
The services are designed for managers with responsibility for the health and safety of indoor environments in homes or workplaces and will also be of interest to professionals and consultants in the property market. The main services include - radon surveys, electronic datasets, search service, lectures and training, radon audit, personal dosimetry, and radiation protection adviser service. Radon surveys can be planned with minimum customer contact or as a collaborative exercise involving the customer closely.
A wide range of publicity material is also available from NRPB, including authoritative reports such as radon atlases as well as advisory leaflets, slide sets, a radon video and a quarterly newsletter. This material will be of interest to professional groups such as surveyors, estate agents, valuers and solicitors involved in property transactions and should assist them to provide authoritative and consistent advice to clients. The new brochure includes a reply paid card that can be used to request further information.
Requests for the brochure and/or for services or information can be left on the NRPB radon freephone number (Tel: 0800 614529).