Radon is a gas that can be found all around us, at home or at work. You may not even be aware of it, but exposure to radon gas is the second largest cause of lung cancer in the UK after smoking. With that in mind, here are some important facts about radon gas, its effects and what can be done to reduce exposure in your property.
What Is Radon?
It is a naturally occurring gas that is created when natural stores of uranium in our rocks and soil decay. As it decays, the radon can seep up through the ground and into our homes and other buildings
Where Can We Find It?
All buildings contain radon gas but the levels are usually low and unlikely to cause a problem. However some areas have higher levels which can become a concern. Because it is naturally occurring, there are higher levels in areas where there are higher amounts of source materials. One example of a rock containing uranium that leads to radon being released is granite. So areas with high concentrations of granite in the ground are more likely to see radon problems.
Concentrations are usually highest in underground spaces such as cellars and basements. This radon inside our buildings is where we see most of our radon exposure and is something that it is important to be aware of, especially in commercial properties or larger buildings where there are a high number of people potentially exposed.
If you would like to find out if a property you manage is in a risk area, then take a look at this radon map from the Department of Health for more information.
How Do I Test For It?
There are regulations in place that mean all employers must review the potential for a radon hazard in any property they manage. It is relatively cheap and straightforward to test your property. You can acquire inexpensive detectors to place in rooms you feel may be affected and then send these detectors to a laboratory for appropriate testing. Please check the HPA website for validated laboratories who can supply you with these testers and undertake the testing required.
What Do I Do Now?
If, after testing, you find that the levels of radon on your premises are considered a risk for your patrons or employees then it is your responsibility to do something about it. The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce these radon levels. It is usually a case of building works which can affect the airflow from the surrounding ground. If you are managing a new build, then you can install radon proofing within the floor structure or specialised ventilation in the sub-floor designed to reduce the flow of gas into the building. However in existing buildings this is not possible. There are a number of options available depending on the size of the building and the severity of the problem. You must always ensure that after any relevant work is completed, that you re-test the building for radon levels so that you can be confident the problem has been dealt with.
If you discover your premises has high levels of radon it is absolutely vital that you do something about it. Breathing in the gas is responsible for up to 2000 cancer deaths in the UK each year. Regulations are in place to protect employees and the general public so it is crucial to make sure you do the best for all the people who will be using your property. Ventilation is very important in all workplaces, so speak to the experts at Pratley & Partners who can help you ensure your property follows these regulations.
If you’re not sure what your duties are as an employer, find out more about workplace ventilation requirements.