What is radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas which occurs naturally in the ground from the decay of uranium present in rocks and soils. It is estimated that the effects of exposure to radon gas kills about 200 people a year in Ireland.
You cannot smell, see or taste radon gas. Radon can only be measured with special equipment.
Radon is a radioactive gas which produces minuscule radioactive dust particles. When breathed into the lungs, the radon gas is absorbed in the airways and onto the lung.
The chances of contracting lung cancer from exposure to radon gas normally depends on the concentration of radon gas a person has been exposed to and for how long a period this occurs.
When you are exposed for an indefinite period of time to significant levels of radon, a persons risk of developing lung cancer increases.
Radon is a similar carcinogen to asbestos and tobacco smoke. The World Health Organisation classified Radon a Class 1 carcinogen.
Radon is not normally linked to any other types of respiratory illnesses or other types of cancer.
What can I do to protect my home?
Get the radon level in your home measured by using approved detectors. If the results are high, certain works should be carried out to your home to reduce your exposure.
How does a radon measurement work?
A radon measurement is normally carried out by placing at least two radon detectors, in your home for ninety days.
The detectors may be placed in a bedroom and in a living room – the places most likely to be occupied. You should check with the radon detector supplier as to the best places to leave the detectors in your particular house.
As the detectors will always be measuring, they should be placed in the rooms immediately on opening. The user instructions accompanying the detectors should be followed in order to get the most exact readings.
Normally after ninety days the detectors should be returned to an approved laboratory to be analysed. The results will show how much radon the detectors have been exposed too.
Once the results are determined the building surveyor will send a written report to the person who requested the radon measurement. The report will show the average level of radon in their home and advice on what to do if the results are problematic.
A typical price charged in Ireland is about sixty (60) euro to purchase two radon detectors to enable a home be monitored.
Peter Sweeney FBEng, Building Surveyor.