Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is radon?
A: Radon is naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is created when radioactive elements such as Uranium found in natural stone decay (break down). The gas decays into radon progeny which are radioactive metal atoms that get caught in our respiratory tracts during inhalation. Radiation emitted from the radon progeny causes lung cancer by damaging the cells in our respiratory tracts and lungs.
Q: Who needs a radon test?
A: You should consider undertaking a radon test for your property if:
- no measurement has ever been conducted
- more than 10 years has passed since the last measurement
- major refurbishment to the property has taken place since the last measurement
- remediation work has been undertaken for previously high radon levels
- the property is under new occupation
Q: How can I detect radon gas in my property?
A: Radon gas is odorless, tasteless and colourless. A radon test is the only way to detect the presence and quantity of gas present in a property. The amount of radon in indoor air will vary depending on structural deficiencies, ventilation, and weather influences. Due to these factors, it is recommended that all dwellings, schools, and workplaces be tested for radon gas.
Q: What are the risks from radon in a home?
A: The World Health Organisation has categorised radon as a group 1 carcinogen. It is in the same group as tobacco smoke and asbestos. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Lung cancer kills more people than breast, pancreatic, colorectal and prostate cancer combined! In Ireland approximately 300 cases of lung cancer each year are linked to radon exposure.
Q: How is radon measured?
A: Radon concentration is measure in becquerels per cubic metre of air (Bq/m3) . The becquerel is a unit of radioactivity and corresponds to one radioactive disintegration per second. The acceptable level, or Reference Level, for homes in Ireland is 200 becquerel per cubic metre (Bq/m3). The average level in Irish home is 77 Bq/m3 .
Q: How does radon enter my home?
A: Your home traps the radon gas as it filters up through the sub soil underneath the property. Radon can enter through unsealed crawl spaces, gaps around pipes or cables, cracks in floors and foundations, and the water supply. The walls, windows, doors and ceilings can prevent the gas from escaping and dissipating into the air naturally, thereby allowing the concentration of gas to build up inside the property, sometimes to harmful levels. Homes in High Radon Areas are more likely to have a radon problem. The only way to know how much radon is in a home is to take a radon test.
A high radon level can be found in any home in any part of the country, but homes with high levels are more likely to be located in High Radon Areas.
Q: What is a High Radon Area?
A: A High Radon Area is any area where it is predicted that 10 per cent or more of homes will exceed the Reference Level of 200 becquerel per cubic metre (Bq/m3). The EPA provide an interactive map for viewing predicted radon levels in Ireland. Any area on the map that is coloured light or dark brown is a High Radon Area.
Q: Can I protect my home from radon?
A: If your home was built after 1st July 1998, the building regulations require that it is fitted with a standby radon sump. This is simple pipe work that extends from under the foundations into the outdoor air. If high radon levels are subsequently measured, the standby sump can be activated by adding a fan. It should be noted that a standby sump without a fan has not been activated and will not reduce radon levels in your home.
For houses built in High Radon Areas the installation of a radon barrier as well as a standby sump is required. The installation of these protective measures is not a guarantee that radon levels will be below 200 Bq/m3. You should therefore have a radon test carried out within the first year of moving into your new home.
Q: How often should a property be tested for radon?
A: During your occupancy if your home has tested below 200 Bq/m3 there is no need to re-test unless you carry out major refurbishment work to your house. For example fitting new windows or doors, or building an extension could possibly open up new entry routes for radon or conversely prevent radon escaping from your house.
It is recommended that a home is retested when there is a change of occupancy as different usage of the property and any refurbishment could increase (or decrease) the level of radiation in the property.
The EPA recommends that homes that tested above the reference level of 200 Bq/m3 and have carried out remediation work to reduce the radon levels should be retested every 5 years to ensure the remedial work is still effective.
Q: How is radon tested for?
A: At Property Health Check we use detectors that are both manufactured and analysed by the global leader in radon measurement, Radonova. Their products and testing have been accredited the highest standard ISO17025, the gold standard for analytical laboratories, assuring you of the highest quality and accuracy of measurement.
The Radtrak² is a long-term test that will monitor between 90 days and 1 full year. The guidelines put in place by the EPA are based on a year long exposure to radon. This extremely accurate test will take into account all of the daily fluctuations in radon and provide an average concentration.
The Rapidos detector is for shorter measurements of at least 10 days and is ideal for the property market. While not a traditional short-term test, the device combines the need for a quicker test with the proven accuracy of alpha track technology. Since it is not susceptible to the vulnerabilities that typically hinder other short-term tests, you will quickly have an indicative measurement at short notice for radon in a property.
If radon is detected it would be necessary to perform a longer term more accurate assessment using Radtrak²® detectors, over a three month period, to confirm the initial findings.
Q: What is alpha track technology?
A: Radonova use the alpha track method, where film elements are put into pods made out of anti-static plastic. Radon, combined with normal air, diffuses into the pod where it may decompose releasing high energy alpha particles. The energy of the alpha particles makes microscopic tracks on the film which can then be counted. The alpha-track detectors are contained in airtight bags until required. The measurement begins when the bag is opened and the pod is placed. When the measuring period has elapsed the detectors are sealed into the original bags and should then be immediately returned to Property Health Check. The analysis made at the Radonova laboratory is performed using a state-of-the-art image scanner.
Q: How many detectors do I need for my home?
A: The number of required detectors varies between the type of building and its location in the country, but to make an annual average value measurement in a house a minimum of two detectors is required. One is placed in the most used living area and one in the master bedroom.
Q: How do I get a quotation?
A: A quote will automatically be emailed to you when your pre-purchase survey has been scheduled.
Q: How do I book a radon test?
A: To book either click the “book now” link in the quotation email and customer services will follow up to finalise the booking or call customer services and they will take your booking directly.
Q: Can a radon test be performed during a pre-purchase survey?
A: Yes this is available additionally from the ‘Healthy Home’ package. During your survey the engineer can perform an indicative same day radon sniffer test and the results are available on the day, and will be included in your Pre-Purchase Survey Report. Supply of two Radtrak²® detectors is included with this test so that you are also provided with laboratory radon analysis results for the property as recommended by the EPA. The long term analysis takes into account daily fluctuations in radon and provides you with a seasonally adjusted average concentration.
Q: What information does a long term or short term radon test report provide?
A: There is a lot of information in your report. You will see displayed the detector number(s), location information and your results. The main piece of information to look at is your “Average Radon Concentration”. This is the radon level recorded during the time the device was deployed. Next to that number there will be a +/- number called the standard deviation, which is the variance in which your radon level may have fluctuated. It will always be a small number and has little to no impact on your average radon concentration. Any decisions on fixing a radon level should be made solely on your average level.
The acceptable level for homes in Ireland is 200 Bq/m3.
Q: When do I pay for the test?
A: For supply only Radtrak²® and Rapido® detectors credit or debit card payment is taken with the order. Payment for Same Day Sniffer Tests performed during a Pre-Purchase Survey are actioned on the evening of the survey. Payment details will be taken at the time of booking
Q: When will I receive my report?
A: The Radtrak²® and Rapido® report will be emailed to you approximately 10 working days after the detectors are returned to Property Health Check. Same Day Sniffer Test indicative results will be provided in your Pre-Purchase Survey Report.
It is most important that the report is accurate and does not have errors or omissions. Detectors are analysed at the Radonova laboratory under strict conditions to ensure accurate reliable analysis. We therefore do not make commitments to have the report emailed to clients within 24 hours. We are very aware that clients are working within a strict timeline and that it is important that they receive their reports in a timely fashion. We provide an efficient service and always provide our reports within the quoted time scale, as client reviews confirm.
Q: What if the report reveals problems?
A: Reducing radon levels will depend on the level of radon and the building type. Remediation methods may include improving ventilation in walls and windows, improving under-floor ventilation in homes with suspended floors, activating a standby radon sump by installing a fan, installing a passive radon sump and installing an active radon sump. For further information from the EPA on remediation click here.
After remediation work has been completed it is important to retest to check that levels have been reduced to a safe level.