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Radon in Domestic Dwellings

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To what extent does radon gas pose a risk to the health of occupiers of domestic dwellings in the UK?
This essay discusses the extent of radon gas poses a risk to health of occupiers of domestic dwellings in the United Kingdom (UK) classed as Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The methodology of this is to look at Radon and the health impacts, also the geographical distributions and the concentrations in enclosed spaces such as domestic dwellings. Additionally the risks will be discussed with regard to minimise the effects to public health. Radon is a radioactive gas that derives from uranium -238, which is found in rocks and soil and is a natural radioactive decay chain to radon -222, at its most stable form. Radon has a half-life of 3.8 days and the decay is of the alpha decay and radon is the alpha particle suggested by( Brenner ,1989).Radon is undetectable to humans through their senses. Radon has also been present geologically on the earth for as long as the earth has been formed and was discovered by a German chemist Friedrich Ernst Dorn in the 1900’s, and is found with the noble gases on the periodic table. Because radon is a gas it can seep through rocks and it is suggested by (Scivyer, 2004) granite areas tend to disperse more radon in to the air and homes. Radon progeny get in to the Epithelial lining of the lungs by respiration via air containing radon and irradiate tissue. Radon is an alpha particle which causes further damage to the lungs resulting in possible Lung Cancer or a higher risk to a smoker or non-smoker. Radon is a carcinogen suggested by (Cancer Research uk, 2012). According to the ( S, Darcby , et al 2009) “Each year around 1,100 deaths from lung cancer (3.3% of all deaths from lung cancer) are related to radon in the home” this is also stated by (Public Health England, 2013). These statistics suggest that there is a risk to public health. The mass of radon caused cancers are usually low to medium concentrations as opposed to high concentration due to the fact that largely in the UK people are not exposed to very high doses depending on location. Also there are no suggestions as to precisely known threshold which radon poses no risk with regards to lung cancer (WHO, 2005). Radon changes over time stated by the ( Health Protection Agency, 1995) so this states that Radon will not always be inhaled by family with in the home all the time reducing the risk of possibilty of exposure and reducing the risk of lung cancer.
The concentration of Radon is classified as which action should be taken according to the (Health protection Agency, 2012) (HPA) is 200 Becquerel’s per cubic metre (Bq m3). The mean average of the UK level in dwellings is only 20 Bq/m3 according to (Scivyer, 2004).
This is relatively low compared to the (HPA) measurements of 200Bq/m3 but it does not suggest how many homes were measured for radon so therefore is it statistically reliable and radon can still cause health damage at low or moderate concentrations.

Radon affected areas in the United Kingdom can be seen on the map below:
England and Wales map

(Public Health England, 2013)
Scotland map

(Public Health England, 2013)
Northern Ireland map (Public Health England, 2013)
It is suggested by the maps a percentage of homes in the UK that are above the action level. The darker red levels indicate radon at 30 or more Bq/m3 per 100 kilometres lines of the national grid. To be able to produce these maps the local land charges search carried out a survey by local authorities called the CON20 form asking questions about the property and radon thus give them the statistics they needed to produce the maps.
It can be clearly seen that many of the areas in the UK are affected but it is most dominant in the south west of England and Wales, as opposed to Northern Ireland and Scotland. The Radon can be explained in this area according to (J.D. Appleton.,J.C.H. Miles., 2010) because it has more “bed rock and superficial geology”.
Radon can enter the home:
Diagram of how Radon can enter the Dwelling

(TEC, 2010) The above image explains how radon can enter a home to prevent radon becoming elevated within a dwelling there are preventative measures that can be taken. Radon sumps with fans are usually put under floors or suspended floors that have been covered with a membrane or concrete. They blow the air out through a pipe so that it does not enter the home. Radon sumps with fans are widely used in high radon areas. Passive sumps with no fan tend to be used in the same way as sumps with fans although are generally used in low radon areas. Small fans used in the loft of a dwelling to circulate fresh air are positive ventilation. Natural under floor ventilation is used when the dwelling has a suspended floor and has enough space to allow as the name suggests natural ventilation. Active under floor ventilation is fan in the space to aid ventilation and reduce radon. Also membranes are placed over the ground which helps to trap Radon particles getting to the air and in to the home. New buys are usually fitted with one of these prevention measures. You can also get radon meters to check the levels of your home. To conclude on this essay Radon is a natural radiation that can cause lung cancer according to the statistics used there 1,100 deaths (Health protection Agency, 2012) from Radon in the home that causes death each year. The concentrations and distribution in the UK are of low or moderate type depending on location (Public Health England, 2013) apart from the south west of England and Wales but this still represents risk to public health. Preventative measures are easily applicable to homes and improve risk although may cost considerable amount, no price is worth your health. Radon does pose a risk to UK dwellings but not to a significant extent. Reference list:
Health Protection Agency, 1995. Radon changes with time. [Online]
Available at: http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1195733807197
[Accessed 17 10 2013].
Cancer Research uk, 2012. Cancer research radon. [Online]
Available at: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/type/lung-cancer/about/lung-cancer-risks-and-causes
[Accessed 17 10 2013].
D.J, B., 1989. Radon risk and remedy. 1 ed. New York: W.H.Freeman.
England, P. H., 2013. UK Radon maps. [Online]
Available at: http://www.ukradon.org/article.php?key=indicativemap
[Accessed 16 10 2013].
Health protection Agency, 2012. Public Health wales. [Online]
Available at: http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/Radiation/UnderstandingRadiation/UnderstandingRadiationTopics/Radon/
[Accessed 16 10 2013].
J.D. Appleton.,J.C.H. Miles., 2010. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. Science Direct, 101(1), pp. 799-803.
S. Darcby., A.Gray.,P. M'cgail., S. Read., 2009. Lung cancer deaths from indoor radon and the cost effectiveness and potential of. British medical Jornal (BMJ), a31(10), p. 38.
Scivyer, C., 2004. Buying homes in a radon-affected areas. London: BRE Bookshop.
TEC, H., 2010. Herra tec. inc. Radon & Environmental labatories. [Online]
Available at: http://www.heratech.com/img/header2.gif
[Accessed 21 10 2015].
WHO, W. H. O., 2005. The WHO handbook on indoor radon, World Wide: The WHO library publicating data.

Bibliography: Sociology of illness, June 1990. In search of safety: chemicals and cancer 2 (12) pp.230-232 F Craun. F.,Gunther & Kopfler, 1986. Environmental epidemiology: New York: Taylor & Francis.…...

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