Radon gas (Rn-222) is a colorless, odorless and tasteless noble gas that is produced through the radioactive decay of uranium, which is naturally present in a significant number of soil and rock types, in addition to water. The characteristic of the gas makes measurements without the appropriate instruments completely impossible, presenting a higher danger to those exposed to the gas as it can not be detected by the human-being alone. It is not uncommon to find high levels in both residential and public buildings. The concentration of this gas depends on various factors such as the composition of the land, the construction materials used, the ventilation conditions, the origin of present running water or the use of energy sources such as coal, oil, gas, etc. Levels over 300 Bq/m3 present a health risk and should not be allowed indoors.
What is radon gas?
The WHO warns that radon is the leading cause for lung cancer in non- smokers and the second for smokers (between 3-14% due to radon gas exposure) and has therefor established a reference level of 100 Bq/m3.
The European Commission infringement proceedings are still ongoing against the following Member States because of their lack of proper treatment for radon issue: Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Finland, among others.
The European Commission and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that 84.000 deaths yearly are caused by residential radon worldwide
The European Commission has initiated a study to review the establishment of radon action plans among its Member States (and the U.K.) and such their compliance with the Basic Safety Standard Directives
Why is it so important to measure levels long-term?
99.9% of short-term measurements are not effective according to a study from the University of Calgary
Radon levels can vary during the course of the year; winter and spring season being the ones when the highest concentration is normally detected, and therefore the most dangerous. But the levels can also differ within the same month, and even the same day, making it essential to register continuous measurements in real-time.
With access to this data, mitigation actions can be carried out when necessary allowing protection against this mortal danger 365 days a year, and not only when measurements are taken.
As the map indicates there are a wide range of locations in countries such as Spain, UK, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Finland with radon levels over 300 Bq/m3. Introducing our sensor into the European market will be fundamental in this fight, to reduce the annual deaths caused by this hazardous gas.
What does the European Directive say?
- Radon concentration in workplaces and indoors can not exceed 300 Bq/m3.
- Those buildings where radon concentration levels exceed the indicated value will be identified and measures for its reduction will be adapted and promoted. In addition, information will be provided regarding exposure to radon in enclosed areas and associated health risks, as well as the importance of measurements and the mitigation possibilities that exist.
- An Action Plan against radon should be established in each Member State
Situation in Spain
- Very extensive areas of Galicia, Madrid, Castilla y León, Castilla la Mancha and Extremadura present values well above what the European Directive and the WHO recommends.
- To date, Spain still does not have its own Action Plan for radon to protect its citizens from exposure to this gas, as many other European countries do.
- In December 2019, the Council of Ministers finally approved a Royal Decree of Modification of the Technical Building Code, which includes a new section of the “Basic Health Document” dedicated to the protection of buildings against exposure to radon gas. This means that Spain has only partially transposed the Euratom Directive 2013/59, as the reference levels (600 Bq /m3) continue to clash with those set by the European organization (300 Bq /m3).
- In addition, this year the issue took on even more prominence as extremely high levels of the gas were found at the Spanish Senate.