Radon Part 2

What difference does the type of property have on Radon

Whilst the physical areas where properties are located, due to geology has been discussed in our previous blog. What has not been discussed is the actual property type. It may well also make a huge difference in the build up of Radon. In the previous blog we also commented on the number of deaths potentially caused every year as being 1000. During our further research the National Radiological Protection Board estimates that radon causes between 2000 and 2500 excess lung cancer deaths every year in the UK, almost half as much as asbestos.

What effect does Occupier behaviour have on Radon

Do you open windows regularly? Have you had extractor fans fitted and do you use them. Do you have vented suspended timber floors or solid for example. We will explore this in our next blog. If timber do you have sufficient sub floor ventilation? Do you have a positive input ventilation system installed? This is because when radon enters an enclosed space it can reach relatively high concentrations where there is inadequate ventilation. It can enter through holes or gaps in floors or walls, gaps under skirting boards. Around services and through cavities in walls so do you regularly maintain and inspect your airbricks and fill cracks.

Type of property

The BRE guidance does however suggest If you have a cellar or basement, you risk is increased, due to the larger surface area being in contact with the soil. But again, this is property specific. It will depend on how the subfloor is completed with a radon barrier or not. Is it bare earth for example. If you do have a cellar, remedial works will prove easier than with a very small sub floor.

For properties constructed after 1999, the guidance in the Building Research Establishment (BRE) guide 211 was heavily revised. With the geographical area of properties requiring either basic or full protection being increased. However it is possible that radon reduction barriers were installed in properties constructed after 1988. But this is normally on a case-by-case basis. Specific enquires of the builder and plans would likely yield some clues.

What to do now?

As the detailing seems so property specific the best way is to test for it. There are short term tests available between 7 to 10 days however these will only give a very limited overview. These short term tests should be considered when the property is in a higher risk zone. The limitations here are that the occupies lifestyle and time of year will affect the readings. Three months test are available and cost around £50. however this isn’t particularly helpful in the purchasing process to wait this long. There are electronic detectors available which seemed to give a day-to-day measurement but again this will be season and occupier specific.

If radon in the air was not worrying enough it is now recognised that some private water supplies can also contain levels of radon. Which must also be controlled. Such as water from private boreholes and radon areas needs to be periodically tested.