What to do if Radon is found in your home

The danger of radon gas in our homes - concept image with periodic table of the elements
At ActivePure, our experts are asked many questions regarding air quality
and purification, one topic that has come up quite often is the issue of Radon.
What is Radon?

Radon is a radioactive gas that is colourless and odourless. Some of you may have come across this from home surveys when you’re looking to purchase a property. It’s a gas that’s formed out of small quantities of decaying uranium found naturally in the soil and rocks. It enters building through cracks in the building’s foundations and gaps in the floor.

Where is it found?

Radon can be found everywhere, but that doesn’t mean we’re all at risk. Inmost cases levels are low, but there are places in the UK where this level is higher and may become a cause for concern. If you want to check your area visit the Public Health England website https://www.ukradon.org/information/ukmaps and enter your postcode to check the area.

Indoor air pollutants against a buildings background - concetp image with copy space
Health concerns

For those that are exposed to high levels of Radon, there is evidence from many countries around the world that show radon can contribute to lung cancer. This is because Radon is airborne and attaches itself to dust and other elements that can be inhaled into our lungs. Once in the lungs the element continues to decay and release radiation. Our lungs then absorb the radiation which leads to internal damage, possibly leading to lung cancer. The longer you’re exposed the greater the risk.

In the UK, Radon is responsible for over 1,100 deaths per year from lung cancer and those that have previously smoked or currently smoking are at greater risk.

Can air purifiers help reduce Radon?

The short answer is no. No HEPA air cleaner can eliminate Radon Gas from the air as the Radon gas is an inorganic substance and unaffected by the purification technologies. However, that being said it is possible for air purifiers to help reduce the “radon daughters”.

A radon atom will exist in the air for approximately 3 days. During that time, it will decay into what is called a “radon daughter”. These daughters have a half-life of approximately 1 hour and give off 3 alpha particles (1 from radon, 2 from the daughters). It is these alpha particles which can pose a health risk. The daughters can attach themselves to common airborne contaminants such as dust particles in the air. Once attached, an air purifier and its HEPA media can remove the dust particle which also removes the attached daughter.

Do not use ionic air cleaners to reduce Radon

Never use an Ionic style air cleaner as this can make the situation worse. Like how dust accumulates on the face of televisions and computer screens from the static electricity, ionic cleaners act in a similar way. Therefore, this could become quite radioactive as dust particles with radon daughters gather on the ionic air cleaner collector plates. The amount of dust accumulated is usually considerable and care should be used when cleaning to avoid releasing the radioactive dust back into the air.

Dust collected from the air duct filter.
What’s the best solution

The best solution is of course to keep as much radon out of the house as possible. This means sealing up floors, ensuring foundations are solid, and venting any under house areas so that radon cannot accumulate in the first place. For more information on ventilation, we recommend visiting the Public Health England website where you can find the options available and typical costs for the remedial work.

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