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Radon

Last updated: 17 April 2012

Picture of the image used on the front cover of the Radon in Dwellings report 2009.Radon is a natural radioactive gas which comes from the decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It is colourless, odourless and tasteless.

Radon collects in enclosed places, such as houses, workplaces and other buildings.

Radon is the single biggest source of public radiation exposure in the UK.

Prolonged exposure to radon increases the risk of lung cancer, particularly in smokers. The lifetime risk of lung cancer is about 25 times greater for cigarette smokers.

Radon exposure is the second-greatest cause of lung cancer, after smoking, and is estimated to cause 30 deaths per year in N. Ireland.

The Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate is responsible for mapping radon levels in homes throughout Northern Ireland. The latest report on Radon in Dwellings in Northern Ireland (.PDF 2.9Mb)Opens in New window.was released in 2009 and contains maps based on radon results from over 23,000 homes. It highlights that 1,200 homes in Northern Ireland have been identified above the Government Action Level for radon.

Map of radon risk in Northern Ireland

The darker the colour on the map, the greater the chance of having a higher radon level. If your home is in a coloured area of the map, it is recommended that you arrange for a radon test. This can be done by the Health Protection Agency (contact them at www.ukradon.orgOpens in New window or on 01235 822 622).

The government have 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 1% or greater probability of exceeding the Action Level5.

For more information on lowering radon levels in your home, contact the Health Protection Agency on Map of radon risk in Northern Irelandradon@hpa.org.uk/>Opens in New window or 01235 822 622.

A leaflet on radon is also available: Radon at Home at Work (.PDF 728Kb)Opens in New window

The presentations from the launch of the 2009 Radon in Dwellings report are available below:

For more information on radon in homes, contact NIEA on:

By Post:

Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate (IPRI)
Klondyke Building
Cromac Avenue
Gasworks Business Park
Belfast
BT7 2JA

By Telephone:

028 9056 9299

By Email:

IPRI@doeni.gov.uk


The control of exposure to radon in commercial and public buildings, including schools, is the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive for Northern IrelandOpens in New window or the appropriate district council.

Further related information can be found at www.bre.co.uk/radonOpens in New window.