Modern building practices are contributing to increasing levels of radon gas exposure, according to researchers from Public Health England and University College London (UCL).
A recent study has found that the average radon concentration in homes with retrofitted double glazing is 67% higher than those without.
Radon gas is a cause of lung cancer, leading to over 1,100 estimated deaths each year in the UK.
Odourless and colourless, radon is formed by the radioactive decay of the small amounts of uranium that occur naturally in rocks and soils. If it builds up to high levels indoors it can increase the risk of lung cancer.
How many people realise that, by improving insulation to reduce our energy impact, we could be helping radon gas build up in our homes, increasing our risk of lung cancer?Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
Radon produces a radioactive dust in the air we breathe. The dust is trapped in our airways and emits radiation that damages the inside of our lungs. This damage, like the damage caused by smoking, increases our risk of lung cancer.
Paula Chadwick, Chief Executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, believe people need to be made more aware of the risk:
“Many of us now try to lead a healthy lifestyle to reduce our risks and help us to stay well.
“But how many people realise that, by improving insulation to reduce our energy impact, we could be helping radon gas build up in our homes, increasing our risk of lung cancer?
“November is lung cancer awareness month and this year our Follow my Lead campaign focusing on talking more openly around lung cancer to increase awareness, challenge misconceptions and improve support for those living with this disease.
“It is also UK Radon Awareness Week so this is a great opportunity to talk around one of the lesser known causes of lung cancer and help people lower their risk.”
Way to reduce your radon risk
Levels of radon are generally low in the UK. However, some areas – including parts of Scotland, the north east and south-west of England and parts of Wales – can experience higher levels.
Public Health England’s UK Radon Map can tell you more about the levels of radon gas in your region.
If you are worried about radon gas in your home or workplace, you can find out more information from the UK Radon website. This has lots of information including how to order a radon gas risk report or measurement pack.
- Find out if you live in a radon risk area
- If you do, measure your home
- If the radon is high, reduce it
- If you smoke, give up
Paula Chadwick added, “We join UK Radon and urge everyone to get their homes checked out to make sure they’re not being exposed to radon gas. It’s a cheap and easy process and it could save your life.”