Borders homes to be tested for radon gas levels

borders residents are being offered free radon tests in their homes.

NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council (SBC) are working with the Health Protection Agency (HPA) who are offering the tests to residents in parts of the Scottish Borders, in a project funded by the Scottish Government.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which is colourless, odourless and tasteless.

It is found in all rocks and most soil but levels vary from country to country, region to region and even from house to house in the same street.

When radon concentrations are high, people living or working in the buildings can receive an elevated radiation dose.

Radon is the second largest cause of lung cancer, after smoking, and people who are exposed to high levels of radon are more likely to get lung cancer. The risk to smokers and ex-smokers from radon is much higher than the risk from radon to non-smokers.

Radon affected areas are declared when it is estimated that more than 1% of homes in an area will have radon concentrations at or above the action level.

Approximately 900 homes in Scottish Borders are in areas where high radon levels are more likely acording to the HPA. And they are writing directly to residents and sending them a free test kit on the return of a slip enclosed with their letter.

Housing associations, which own about 200 of the homes, are being contacted separately.

The kit comes with full instructions and contains two small monitors which should be placed in the main living area and a bedroom in normal use.

After three months the monitors are returned to the Health Protection Agency and the results will then be sent directly to the household, with advice on what to do next.

If the readings are high, then there are practical measures which can be taken to reduce levels of the gas such as improving the under-floor ventilation or installing a pump to prevent the radon from the ground entering the home.

Householders in parts of the Borders that are not in the free testing scheme can still check their radon risk and obtain a test at a reduced price on the HPA’s UK radon website www.ukradon.org.

Experts will be on hand to explain to the individual householders that their results meant and advise them on where to find information and impartial advice.

Householders in parts of the Borders that are not in the free testing scheme can still check their radon risk and obtain a test at a reduced price on the HPA’s UKradon website www.ukradon.org.

Experts will be on hand to explain to the individual householders what their results meant and advise them on where to find information and impartial advice.

The Health Protection Agency radon atlas is available on the HPA website www.hpa.org.uk

In homes where radon concentrations are above a level of 200 becquerels per cubic metre of air it is recommended that work should be carried out.

For further information www.ukradon.org, www.hpa.org.uk, email radon@hpa.org.uk or call 01235 822622.