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Technical solutions to radon protection in new build and existing dwellings in radon affected areas

BRE the UK's leading authority on practical cost effective building solutions for radon

Radon is naturally present in soils and rocks in certain areas of the UK and can, in some circumstances, reach relatively high concentrations in buildings in such areas that may present a risk to the health of the building occupants. However, this risk can be mitigated relatively easily by the use of radon protection measures.

BRE is the UK's leading authority on practical cost effective building solutions for radon. Having worked on radon since the early 1980's for the UK government, BRE has extensive experience in the design and application of reduction measures for existing buildings and protective measures for new buildings. BRE also has considerable experience of how radon is dealt with in other countries in Europe, as well as North America and the Far East.

BRE is therefore uniquely placed to offer authoritative impartial fee based advice and consultancy services on a wide range of building related radon topics:

  • Advice on radon solutions for existing buildings such as
    • installing radon sumps
    • sealing floors and walls
    • increasing underfloor ventilation
    • installing a whole house positive pressurization or positive supply ventilation system
    • improving the ventilation of the house
  • Advice on appropriate built in protective measures for new buildings in line with Requirement C1 [Resistance to contaminants] of Schedule 1 of the Building Regulations 2000 for England and Wales. Maps defining areas where radon protection measures (for example basic radon protection measures or full radon protection measures including use of a radon barrier) are required in new buildings are given in BRE Report BR211: Radon: guidance on protective measures for new buildings. The radon maps can be found here
  • Advice on radon protective measures for extensions and change of use to a residential or sleeping use.
  • Assistance in developing local radon reduction campaigns
  • Evaluation of radon reduction or protective measures
  • Assistance in the preparation of technical guidance for the public, building owners, construction professionals and local government staff.
  • Providing training services, including preparation of training material and providing experienced lecturers.
  • Advice on measurement of radon levels in workplaces and practical cost effective methods that are available for reducing the exposure to radon at work in line with the Ionising Radiations Regulations (IRR99) made under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Background information on radon

What is radon? Radon is a colourless, odourless radioactive gas formed by the radioactive decay of radium which in turn comes from the radioactive decay of uranium. Uranium, and hence radon, is found in small quantities in all soils and rocks, although the amount varies from place to place. It is particularly prevalent in granite and limestone areas but not exclusively so.

What is the problem with radon? When radon decays it forms tiny radioactive particles which may be breathed into the lungs. Radiation fro these particles can cause lung cancer which may take many years to develop. In addition smoking and exposure to radon are known to work together to greatly increase the risk of developing lung cancer.

How does radon enter a building? Radon in the soil and rocks mixes with air and rises to the surface where it is quickly diluted in the atmosphere. Concentrations in the open air are very low. However radon that enters enclosed spaces, such as buildings, can reach relatively high concentrations in some circumstances. Radon can enter buildings through the many small cracks and gaps in floors and walls formed during and after construction.

Where is radon a problem? The principal areas of the country in which radon is a problem are the granite areas of Cornwall and Devon, and the limestone areas of Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, North Oxfordshire, Lincolnshire and Somerset. However there are many other areas in England and Wales affected by Radon. The current action level for radon is 200 Bq/m3.