Results of Highland Council housing Radon home testing

In 2014 The Highland Council’s Community Services commissioned Public Health England (PHE) to test around 1,150 Council houses in Highland at the highest risk from radon gas. Highland is one of 16 local authorities in Scotland which has areas with a presence of radon exceeding recommended levels.

These Council houses were in parts of Badenoch and Strathspey; Wester Ross Strathpeffer and Lochalsh; Caol and Mallaig; Landward Caithness; East Sutherland and Edderton; Dingwall and Seaforth; and Aird and Loch Ness Wards.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. You cannot see, hear, feel or taste it. It comes from the tiny amounts of uranium that occur naturally in all rocks and soils. Radon is present in all parts of the UK. The gas disperses outdoors so levels are generally very low. Each individual breathes it in throughout their lives and for most UK residents, radon accounts for half of their total annual radiation dosage.

However, geological conditions in certain areas, including some parts of the Highlands, can lead to higher than average levels. Exposure to high levels of radon, over a long period may increase the risk of developing lung cancer.

Almost 700 test kits have been returned and analysed by Public Health England. Of these tests there are 95 Highland Council houses where the Council will be taking action to reduce radon levels. These are properties where results are above the Council’s target level of 100 Becquerels per cubic metre.

Where a high level of radon is present, steps can be taken to reduce the level, normally by increasing the ventilation under a suspended floor or sucking out the radon from under a solid floor, using a fan. 

The Council’s Community Services has written to all tenants who returned their test kits to advise of the results.

Where the radon concentration is above the recommended target level a schedule of surveys will take place to identify potential remedial works. It is anticipated that all remedial works will be complete by the end of the financial year and that re-testing will take place thereafter to assess the effectiveness of the works.

It is important to emphasise that there is no need for any immediate concern. There is no acute risk from radon. Any risk is due to long-term exposure.

Private householders are encouraged to check the radon maps available at http://www.ukradon.org/  . This website also offers a detailed map check on individual properties for around £4. If the house is in an area at risk from radon then monitoring should be carried out. This can be simply arranged through the same website at minimal cost (around £40 for a radon test pack).

For further information about radon, visit http://www.ukradon.org/ or phone PHE on 01235 822 622 during normal office hours.

12 Oct 2015
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