What is radon?
Radon (Rn) is a radioactive gas that causes around 20 000 lung cancer deaths a year in the EU alone.
It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Depending
on the average Rn concentration in the country and on the method of
calculation, the proportion of all lung cancers caused by radon range between
3% and 14%.
It has no smell, color or taste. It’s produced during the natural decay of uranium in soil and water and can get to our houses through drains and cracks in the foundation.
Where does radon come from?
This dangerous, radioactive gas travels through porous soil and enters the air. It’s naturally present in the air where it’s generally not much of a problem, however, it can be very harmful when trapped inside a building.
Radon can enter your house through:
- Gaps and cracks in your foundation or insulation
- Sumps and drains
Radioactivity is measured in Becquerels (Bq).
One Becquerel = transofmation of 1 atomic nucleus/second.
The concentration of this dangerous gas in air is measured by the number of transformations per second in a cubic meter of air (Bq/m^3).
Acceptable levels of Rn vary from country to country. WHO established generally accepted action level at 100 Bq/m^3 which is equal to 2.7 pCi/L. Upper limit suggested by WHO that shouldn’t be exceeded is equal to 300 Bq/m^3 or 8 pCi/L.
For every 99.9 Bq/m3, or every 2.7 pCi/L increase in Rn exposure, lung cancer risk rises 16 percent.
The lower the level, the lower the risk.
You can measure Rn level in your house by using special dosimeters. Such devices are produced by number of companies and can be bought on the internet or in the home improvement stores. Rn levels can vary so it’s recommended to perform long-term sampling, usually for at least 3 months.
The question is...
How can you protect your home?
New houses can be built to be radon-resistant, which is much cheaper than fixing a radon problem identified later on. Whether you are building a new house or you are improving your current one, there are multiple ways to keep your family safe from radon.
☑ Make sure your house has proper ventilation
☑ Seal cracks in walls and floors with specific materials designed for this purpose such as plaster or caulk
☑ Properly seal drains and pipes
☑ Use special floor underlay that limits radon penetration – such as the one produced by this company: https://fairunderlay.pl/en/products/special-line/special-radon-barrier/☑ Install radon sump system in your basement
☑ Install a gas permeable layer under the slab or flooring system
☑ Install a vent pipe that safely vents radon and other gases above the house