Is Radon Gas My Problem?

How important is to measure Radon Gas Concentration

Seriously, it is the Radon gas your problem? Well, it might be. The World Health Organisation nominates it as being a danger in case of systematic exposure to this radioactive gas [1], between 3–14% of all lung cancers in a country being associated with exposure to Radon and the risk of lung cancer increases proportionally with increasing Radon exposure. EU Commission issued a directive [2] saying that on 300 Bq/m3 an alarm should be issued and further actions of reducing the radon concentration should be taken, to avoid the risk of lung cancer [3]

Recently, in Romania, this topic surfaced to media and one of the main news TV stations presented it in prime time [4]. Beyond the normal, expected, alarmist tone ("irradiated in our own homes"), the article is well documented and rather balanced. It makes a public service raising the flag against a invisible, odorless, tasteless gas with ubiquitous presence.

As every scientific source mention, Radon is a danger if a person is exposed to it long term. Which means at home or at the office, where we spend the most time of our lives. Radon is a "gift" from Mother Nature and we receive it in our spaces by two main vectors: the natural emission from the soil (which means location of the building) and the construction materials used to erect that building. Either way contributes the the concentration of this gas in our spaces. Do not assume that simply having your office on the 6th floor you are protected from a gas that comes from the soil; radon is a gas and the elevators of the building action as "pumps", equalising the concentration within the building.

The good news is that, being a gas, Radon can be eliminated as any other gases: through ventilation. Again, do not make assumptions: HVAC is one of the most important "utilities" that a building management provides to its tenants and it should work flawless. It means that any mistake in HVAC functioning schedule or maintenance may have an impact. Combine this with a location with higher than usual emissions and/or building materials produced from areas with high emission (remember that Radon is one of the intermediate step in the normal radioactive decay chains of Thorium, Uranium or Radium) and you have the "perfect storm". And the problem becomes more important if we are talking about schools and kindergartens (hint:
think on exposure duration during entire life of a person).

In Europe this gas is monitored for years. The result is the Indoor radon concentration [5] that show on map the average concentration on 10 x 10 Km cells, across of the whole EU countries.



In Romania, currently there is no legal framework to mandated the real-estate developers of Facility management companies to measure the radon gas concentration. It will come this year when all EU countries should implement the 2013/59/EURATOM directive that "establishes uniform basic safety standards for the protection of the health of individuals subject to occupational, medical and public exposures against the dangers arising from ionising radiation" [2]. However there is a scientific group on University Babes-Bolyai in Cluj that studies this topic for few years now, within the frame of a EU financed project [6]. Accordingly to them, after measuring radon in ~5000 points in 18 counties, the average natural baseline is ~176 Bq/m3, almost half of the alert level of 300 Bq/m3, but almost double of the warning threshold (100 Bq/m3). However, in average, they found that ~10% of the measured levels are above this alert limit, with values being significantly different between neighbor cells. As the project is half the way to its completion we are looking forward with great interest to seeing the published results on their scientific research.

The basic thing is that this problem exists everywhere and it is better to know where you are. Radon is just one of the 26 parameters that Nuvap [7] solution implements for indoor air quality monitoring. Below, it is a sample on the Radon level, during the last month, in our office in Bucharest.




The Nuvap solution may be used to show you almost in real-time (hourly), or on discrete moments in time (daily, weekly, monthly, etc), the quality of the air inside your office, radon included. You can have access to this information by using one of our services [8] that delivers you the expected result. If you are a tenant, you may want to see the status in your rented space(s) and the quality of the serviced received. Alternatively, if you are the owner or the FM company, administering the space, you may want to know how to improve your services to your tenants, or even use the data for cost optimisation.

Either way, if you are interested to measure the quality of the environment where you and your colleagues spend the most time you are awake, drop us a mail at mail-at-sbsolution.ro to have a talk on this matter.



References:

[1]: WHO, Radon and health [online], available at http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/radon-and-health

[2]: EU Commission, Council Directive 2013/59/EURATOM [online], available at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/2013/59/oj

[3]: American Cancer Society, Radon and Cancer [online], https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/radon.html

[4]: Stirile ProTV, Romanii, cei mai expusi cetateni din UE la radon, gazul radioactiv din locuinte [online], https://stirileprotv.ro/stiri/social/romanii-cei-mai-expusi-cetateni-din-ue-la-radon-gazul-radioactiv-din-locuinte-cum-ne-afecteaza.html

[5]: European Commission, Indoor radon concentration [online], available at https://remon.jrc.ec.europa.eu/About/Atlas-of-Natural-Radiation/Indoor-radon-AM/Indoor-radon-concentration

[6]: UBB, SMART-RAD-EN [online], available at http://www.smartradon.ro/

[7]: Nuvap, Indoor Air Quality Monitoring [online], available at http://www.nuvap.ro

[8]: SBS, Servicii locale specifice [online], available at http://www.sbsolution.ro/#servicii