Are you buying a house in a Radon affected area? Here’s how to find out and what to do next
27 November 2018
You’ve run, jumped and skipped over many hurdles to find your dream home, but it’s important not to overlook the area our new property is located. Schools are exceptional, great transport links and easy access to some excellent shopping and leisure facilities. However, have you thought you may be buying a house in a radon affected area?
What is radon gas?
Radon is a natural occurring noble gas found everywhere, however, some parts of the UK have higher exposure levels than other areas. We cannot see it, taste it or smell it, but it could be present in our homes.
Is there radon gas in my area?
A large part of the UK is considered to be a ‘radon affected area’ but that doesn’t mean you can’t, or shouldn’t, be buying your house there. The Timberwise radon map is a useful visual guide used to estimate which parts of the country are most likely to be affected by radon. The below map is only a reference point, as high radon levels can be found in properties anywhere in the country.
How can I test for radon gas?
Radon gas is invisible and odourless, the only way to find out if a property has significantly high levels of radon gas is through performing thorough diagnostics.
Radon detectors, small black monitors, are placed within the main living and sleeping areas of the property for testing. It is recommended testing is carried out over a 90 day period to allow for seasonal variations. The presence of radon causes invisible damage to the plastic inside the detectors and these changes can be measured and used to calculate the radon level. These detectors are then sent for laboratory analysis to obtain a yearly average Becquerel level. Remedial action is then dependant on the accurate results obtained.
What is a safe radon level?
Exposure to radiation, including radon, affects people differently, so there is no such thing as a ‘safe’ radon level, however the lower your exposure the lower the risk of developing serious illness.
Radon is measured in becquerels per cubic metre of air (Bq m3). The Health Protection Agency (HPA), a government department that protects UK public health, has set the UK Action Level for radon at 200 Bq m3.
Radon levels in excess of 200 Bq/m3 require immediate remedial action to the property in order to bring the radon concentration down.
How can I mitigate radon exposure?
There are several methods that can be used to reduce radon gas levels:
- Underfloor extract and radon mini sumps work by creating lower pressure below floor level which reduces the ingress of radon gas into the building.
- Sump fans can be installed externally or internally
- Positive pressure systems draw radon free air from the loft space or directly from outside, via a positive pressure ventilation unit installed in the loft space in a house, or on an internal wall.