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Work to start on latest radon testing programme in Highland

17th August 2014

Photograph of Work to start on latest radon testing programme in Highland

The Highland Council's Community Services have commissioned Public Health England (PHE) to test around 1,150 Council houses in Highland at the highest risk from radon gas.

PHE is writing to 1,150 Council tenants in parts of Badenoch and Strathspey; Wester Ross Strathpeffer and Lochalsh; Caol and Mallaig; Landward Caithness; East Sutherland and Edderton; Dingwall and Seaforth; and Aird and Loch Ness Wards during the week commencing 18 August 2014.

Tenants will receive test kits and instructions on how to use them the following week commencing 25 August 2014. Highland is one of 16 local authorities in Scotland which has areas with a presence of radon exceeding recommended levels.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. You cannot see, hear, feel or taste it. It comes from the tiny amounts of uranium that occur naturally in all rocks and soils. Radon is present in all parts of the UK. The gas disperses outdoors so levels are generally very low. Each individual breathes it in throughout their lives and for most UK residents, radon accounts for half of their total annual radiation dosage. However, geological conditions in certain areas, including some parts of the Highlands, can lead to higher than average levels. Exposure to high levels of radon, over a long period may increase the risk of developing lung cancer.

Public Health recommends that action should be taken to reduce radon levels in houses where the radon concentration is measured at or above the Action Level of 200 becquerels per cubic metre Bq m-3.

Testing for radon has previously occurred in Fort Augustus and Helmsdale and is a straightforward process. Two small detectors are placed in a house for three months after which they are sent for analysis. Where a high level of radon is present, steps can be taken to reduce the level, normally by increasing the ventilation under a suspended floor or sucking out the radon from under a solid floor, using a fan.

It is important to emphasise that there is no need for any immediate concern. There is no acute risk from radon. Any risk is due to long-term exposure.

Private householders are encouraged to check the radon maps available at http://www.ukradon.org/. This website also offers a detailed map check on individual properties for around £4. If the house is in an area at risk from radon then monitoring should be carried out. This can be simply arranged through the same website at minimal cost (around £50 for a radon test pack).

For further information about radon, visit http://www.ukradon.org/, or phone PHE on 01235 822 622 during normal office hours.

What is Radon?

Radon is a natural radioactive gas that enters buildings from the ground:

Indoor radon is the largest source of radiation exposure to the public.
Living or working in a building with high radon levels increases the risk of lung cancer.
Smoking increases the risk from radon considerably.
Radon in domestic premises contributes to over 1,000 UK lung cancer cases each year.
High levels are more common in some areas of Scotland, including parts of Highland.
The average radon level in UK homes is 20 Bq m-3 (becquerels per cubic metre of air)
The domestic Action Level for radon is 200 Bq m-3
The Target Level for remediation is 100 Bq m-3
The Test

Testing is easy and everything is sent by free post

Two small radon monitors are sent; one for your main living room and another for your main bedroom.
The test kit includes simple instructions explaining where to place the monitors.
They stay in place for three months and are then returned for analysis.
The result, with an explanation is sent by letter.

More general information about radon can be found on http://www.ukradon.org/

 

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