Radioactive gas warning

Researchers warn high radioactive gas exposure increases risk of lung cancer

SCIENTISTS have warned that up to an estimated 150 homes in St Albans could have excessive levels of radon, a colourless, radioactive gas which is the second largest cause of lung cancer in the UK.

That’s twice as many houses predicted to have the naturally occurring gas in Watford, and about five times more than scientists estimate emit the radioactive product in Stevenage.

The statistics are in a new Health Protection Agency (HPA) report recording radon in homes across England and Wales. The figures show that St Albans district has the second highest estimated number of homes with the gas in Hertfordshire, but far below 560 houses suspected of having it in neighbouring Dacorum.

The recently released review summarises about 480,000 radon measurements taken in English and Welsh homes between 1980 and 2009.

Radon is a radioactive product of the decay of naturally occurring uranium found in all soils.

According to the HPA the main source of radon in houses is the ground beneath the home.

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The natural radioactive gas seeps into buildings from minute amounts of uranium that are present in all rocks, soils, bricks and concrete. During surveys radon detectors were placed in the main living area and a regularly used bedroom, for three months. Radon is measured in Becquerels per cubic metre of air (Bq m ? �).

Locally, of the 82 homes measured within the St Albans postcode area, one in the Verulam ward was found to have 240 Bq m ? �.

The average radon level in homes across the UK is 20 Bq m ? � and the HPA recommends that householders take action to reduce levels of the gas if their home has a reading of, or over, 200 Bq m ? �.