Radon is a colourless, odourless and tasteless natural gas found in soil and rocks. Levels vary throughout North Kesteven from parish to parish and even from house to house in the same street.

We all breathe in radon throughout our lives and for most UK residents it accounts for approximately half their total annual radiation dosage. However, certain geological conditions, including those found in parts of North Kesteven, can lead to above average radon levels. Radon is considered as a significant contaminant that affects indoor air quality worldwide. It is reportedly the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking. People who are exposed to high levels of radon are more likely to get lung cancer (much more so if they are smokers as well). It is estimated that radon causes 1,000 - 2,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the UK.

In open spaces, when radon mixes with air, it is quickly diluted into the atmosphere. However air containing radon can find its way into your home or workplace, mainly through cracks in floors and gaps around service pipes from the ground below. Until you have a test carried out you cannot know what the level of radon will be in your property. However, you can find out if your property is in a higher or lower risk area.

To enable radon initiatives to be targeted effectively, the most radon-prone areas are designated by Public Health England (PHE) as Affected Areas, defined as those areas with a greater than 1% chance of a house having radon levels above the Action Level of 200 Bq per cubic metre. PHE recommends that people in Affected Areas should test their homes for radon.

In July 2010 PHE introduced a “Target Level” of 100 Bq per cubic metre in addition to the 200 Bq per cubic metre Action Level to emphasise that even below 200 Bq per cubic metre, there are still risks to health and simple remediation measures can be taken to reduce these risks.

Public Health England has issued radon maps of England and Wales which show the areas of the country classed as ‘Affected Areas’. These can be accessed via links which can be found under the Websites tab above.

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Radon testing

The only way to find out whether a dwelling has a high level of radon is by having a test done. Testing costs around £50 and involves the placing of small detectors in your home for a period of 3 months, in order to get an accurate result. We recommend that people who are living in an Affected Area should have their homes tested to find out what the level of radon is.

What can I do to reduce the radon level in my home?

Various remedial measures exist. It is important to choose a method that is likely to work in the individual circumstances. The method to select will depend on several factors, including

  • The construction of the dwelling
  • The level of radon present
  • The desired `target level’ of radon

Radon remediation

Before you can consider how to reduce the radon level in your home you must have a reliable radon measurement taken. The type of radon remediation depends on the levels found and construction of your property. The Building Research Establishment provide a huge amount of advice on the various measures available, and tailored solutions for large or unusual properties.

Generally there are five main ways of reducing the amount of radon entering a house:

  • Improving the ventilation of the house
  • Increasing underfloor ventilation
  • Sealing floors and walls
  • Installing a radon sump system
  • Installing a whole house positive pressurisation or positive supply ventilation system

These solutions are not all suitable for all types of house, nor are they suitable for all levels of radon, and in some cases more than one solution will need to be used in resolving the radon problem. This is particularly the case where a house is large or it has a cellar or basement.

Measurement service for householders

If you are buying a home, ask whether it has been tested for radon. Sellers are not legally obliged to volunteer the information that they know, but if you ask for it they must give it. Ask to see a letter giving the result.

The only reliable guide to the level of radon in a building is a measurement over a period long enough to average out short-term variations in radon levels - this should ideally be three months. The procedure recommended by the PHE is to use passive monitors as they are reliable, simple to use and can be sent by post. The individual result for each home is confidential and will not be given to anyone else without the prior consent of the householder at the time of the measurement. This service is available to any householder in the UK. This includes the supply of two radon detectors, their subsequent analysis and the reporting of the result. All packaging and return postage are also included. This costs around £40 and are arranged directly through the PHE.

Individual report on the radon potential for a home

The PHE provides an authoritative one-page report on the radon potential for a home. This report provides the reassurance of independent advice on radon potential without the need for individuals to consult and interpret detailed local maps - the report also includes brief advice on what to do next. The service has been developed by the PHE in response to demand from solicitors and others who wish to confirm whether a property is in a radon Affected Area, a question often raised during house conveyancing. The service covers the whole of England and is based on published data.

This service includes a written report which will be issued with information on the results of radon measurements, both within the local authority area and the immediate locality of the property, as well as an estimation of the probability of elevated levels of radon existing in the property. However, measurement data for individual properties will not be provided because there is a confidential agreement between the PHE and individual householders. This costs around £4 and are arranged directly through the PHE.