Radon gas in your home

Radon is a natural radioactive gas which comes from the decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It is colourless, odourless and tasteless. In outside air the levels of radon are low but it collects in enclosed places, such as houses, workplaces and other buildings.

What radon does

Long-term exposure to radon increases the risk of lung cancer, particularly in smokers. Radon exposure is the second greatest cause of lung cancer, after smoking, and is estimated to cause 30 deaths per year in Northern Ireland.

Where radon is found

Buildings in certain parts of the country are more likely to have raised radon levels. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) works with Public Health England to map radon levels in homes throughout Northern Ireland.

The latest report was published by Public Health England in 2015 and contains maps based on radon results from over 23,000 homes, along with information on the geology of Northern Ireland.

If you are concerned about radon levels in your home, look at the maps in the Radon Report to see if you are in an area with an increased risk of high radon levels. The darker the colour on the radon map, the greater the chance of a high radon level in a building. However not all buildings, even in the darkest areas, have high levels.

If you need help reading the map, you can contact NIEA.

What you need to do

If your home is in a coloured area of the map, it is recommended that you arrange for a radon test to be carried out.

For further advice, you can contact NIEA.

Reducing radon levels

The government has recommended an ‘action level’ for radon in homes in the UK. This level is 200 becquerels per cubic metre. Above this level it is recommended that householders take action to reduce their radon levels.

Radon levels in homes can be reduced in a number of ways. The most effective is a radon sump. Air is drawn to the sump using a fan and is then expelled to the outside.

In new homes, a radon barrier fitted during construction can be effective at preventing radon infiltration into the building.

New buildings, extensions, conversions and refurbishments must be fitted with basic radon preventive measures in parts of Northern Ireland with a one per cent or greater probability of exceeding the ‘action level’.

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