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Radon in the workplace – A new protection legislation requires employers to test for radon.

May 10, 2019

As of May 2019, it is now compulsory for employers in high radon areas to carry out radon testing in the workplace. This new legislation is aimed at reducing the levels of radon gases if they exceed the national reference level of 300 Becquerel meter cubed.

Radon is a radioactive gas that typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home or workplace through cracks and other holes in the foundation of the building.

What is radon?

Radon is a chemical element that is radioactive, colourless, odourless, tasteless noble gas. It is a naturally occurring gas that results from the decay of uranium, thorium or radium in rocks and soils.

Why is it dangerous?

Radon produces a radioactive dust that is dispersed in the air we breathe. The dust when we inhale it emits radiation that damages the inside of our lungs. This damage increases our risk of lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the world. Your risk of contracting lung cancer from exposure to radon depends on several factors. How much radon you have been exposed to, and the length of exposure . Smokers are also 25% more likely to be affected by radon.  

How do I know if I am around high levels of radon gases?

Having the area tested with a radon testing kit, is the only effective way to determine if you are being exposed to high levels of radon.

How can I reduce my exposure to radon if its naturally coming up from the ground?

There are a few ways to reduce your exposure to radon gases;

  • Don’t let radon build up in the air around you, increase air flow by opening windows and using fans and vents to circulate air.
  • Seal the cracks in floors and walls with plaster, caulk, or other materials that will stop the radon gas moving up through the building.
  • Install a radon sump.

Speaking at the National Radon Forum Laura Burke, EPA Director General, said:

“In Ireland, up to 300 cases of lung cancer each year are linked to Radon, which is a serious public health hazard.  Employers now have responsibility to ensure that their employees are protected from exposure to this radioactive gas.  Radon testing in workplaces is simple and inexpensive and, where necessary, reducing high radon levels in a building is also straightforward. The EPA and the HSA are working in partnership to support employers in implementing this legislation.”