Radon homes need action

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The Independent Online
A national survey of homes in areas most affected by radon found that nearly one in ten required remedial action for the gas. Investigators for the government watchdog, the National Radiological Protection Board, found they had radon concentrations above the recommended action level. Naturally occurring radon is a cancer-causing agent which comes from the breakdown of uranium in the earth's crust, causing gas to seep into every home in Britain. It is only considered dangerous in high concentrations with long- term exposure.

The highest number of tests - 335,000 - was in England where 10 per cent of the homes were above the action level, the majority in Devon and Cornwall. Wales followed with 4 per cent (of 5,000 homes tested). In Scotland it was 3.5 per cent (of 6,000 homes tested), and in Northern Ireland 3.33 per cent (of 12,300 homes tested). The survey focused on "most-affected" areas where 5 per cent or more of properties were thought to have radon levels above 200 becquerels per cubic metre of air - at which remedial work is considered prudent.

Local authorities are responsible for meeting the cost of remedial work required in council houses. Private home owners may be eligible for grant aid in some instances. Modern homes with double glazing can bring about concentrations in high radon areas. But the gas can be greatly reduced through below-floor fans or other ventilation systems. Building regulations now protect new homes from radon in high-level areas.

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