HPA sessions to help solve radon problems in Highland homes (02/11/11)

Issued by the Health Protection Agency

The latest wave of tests for radioactive gas radon in the Highlands, found nine homes had readings more than four times over the point that HPA recommends action.

Over the past months the Health Protection Agency, in a project funded by the Scottish Government, invited householders across the Highlands to apply for a free test for radon, a naturally occurring gas which is present all over the UK.

Radon cannot be seen, smelt or tasted but each year it is believed to lead to over 1,000 lung cancer deaths across the UK.

Nearly 1,000 households across the area took up the offer and the HPA dispatched testing kits which were then placed, left for three months and then returned to the Agency for analysis. Householders were then sent details of their radon level, what that meant and advice on what to do next.

Now HPA staff together with colleagues from the Building Research Establishment are staging drop-in events, organised by Highlands Council, for anyone wanting more information and have sent invites to all those who have already had notice of high results.

The events will be run at the Helmsdale Community Centre on Dunrobin Street between 11am and 6pm on Tuesday November 8 and at The Lovat Hotel, Fort Augustus between 10am and 7pm on Wednesday, November 9. The team will be available at the Boat Hotel in Boat of Garten, Aviemore between 10am and 7pm on Thursday, November 10 and finally at the Aquadome on Bught Lane in Inverness between 10am and 1pm on Friday, November 11.

“What we want to do at these events is make sure that people get the information they need to assess if they have a problem and then make informed decisions about the next step,” said Neil McColl, head of radon at the HPA’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards.

“We have sent information to householders who took part but naturally people will want to find out more. Because of that we find it’s useful to run events where people can ask those questions face-to-face, see pictures of typical works, examples of the equipment used and literature from contractors.

“We also like to explain to people that reducing radon levels in the home can be quite straight forward - some remediation of homes can be undertaken by anyone with practical DIY experience.”

Since the tests were sent out to Highlands residents the HPA has published a new map of radon affected areas in Scotland, highlighting further parts of the area as potentially affected, meaning more people than previously thought could have high radon levels.

HPA has been liaising with The Highland Council and NHS Highland on the results of the radon testing programme and the Council is now working with the Agency to assess radon in its properties and to take appropriate remedial action where necessary.

Mr McColl said: “Whenever we run testing programmes we find a small number of properties with unusually high readings. In this round we found nine homes across the area which had radon levels more than four times over the point at which we recommend householders take action to protect their health.

“Everyone is exposed to radon all the time and for most of us it is the largest single part of our annual radiation dose, the risks from it are those associated with long term exposure.

“These high readings illustrate yet again that if you are in a radon affected area you should get your home tested. This then enables you to take steps to minimise your exposure to radon.”

ENDS

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