Protect building users with a Radon mitigation strategy
Radon is the second largest cause of lung cancer in the UK, second only to smoking. This colourless, odourless and tasteless gas comes from uranium which occurs naturally in many rock. It seeps into buildings through cracks in walls and can be drawn into buildings through a process called advection.
Under UK regulations, all employers must review the potential radon hazard in their premises and take preventative measures to reduce radon levels if necessary. Long term exposure to high levels of radon can lead to lung cancer; it is believed radon is responsible for between 2,000 and 3,000 cases of lung cancer each year.
Employers who use basements and poorly ventilated ground floor rooms are most affected, including factories, offices and shops. It is also a concern in some domestic properties.
To identify potential hazards, employers should undertake a radon risk assessment and take necessary measures to reduce radon levels for employees. This should be carried out in relation to all below ground workplaces in the UK (including basement offices or store rooms) and all workplaces located in radon affected areas.
This can sometimes present challenges for employers, especially for banks and other financial buildings because of their unique architecture and reliance on underground stores, but radon issues cannot be ignored. Eight hours of exposure per day at 400 bq/m3 (which is the recommended action limit for workplaces) would give the same exposure to radiation in a single year as 223 chest x-rays – and is the equivalent of smoking nearly 11 cigarettes per day.
In the UK, 370 deaths per year are from lung cancer developed as result of radon exposure received in the workplace. This is compared to 49 construction industry workers fatally injured and 173 workers fatally injured in total.
Radon hazards are simple and cheap to measure and can be relatively easy to address. Bureau Veritas offers a wide range of services including radon risk assessments to help investigate radon issues and reduce levels. Our experienced team uses specialist detectors, digital monitors and recommends a three-month test period to determine radon levels within a property, before putting in place a radon mitigation strategy to reduce potential hazards.
Radon risk assessments:
Occupational exposure advice
Project management of remedial contractors