Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is radon?
A: Radon is a radioactive gas that forms when any Uranium present in natural stone decays. The gas decays into radon progeny, (radioactive metal atoms) that gets caught in our respiratory tracts during inhalation. The trapped radon progeny emit radiation which damages the cells in our respiratory tracts and lungs and thereby increasing the risk of lung cancer.
Q: Does radon smell?
A: No, radon gas is completely odorless, without taste or colour. A radon test is the only way to detect the gas. The amount of radon in indoor air will vary depending on structural deficiencies, ventilation, and outside weather influences. Due to these factors, it is recommended that all dwellings, schools, and workplaces be tested for radon gas.
Q: How dangerous is radon in indoor air?
A: World Health Organization (WHO) states it is proven that radon, a Group 1 carcinogen, can cause cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and is estimated to cause 22,000 deaths a year worldwide, and in Ireland approximately 300 cases of lung cancer each year are linked to exposure to radon. Lung cancer kills more people than breast, pancreatic, colorectal, and prostate cancer COMBINED.
Q: How does radon enter a home?
A: Radon comes up from the ground under your home and can enter the property through small cracks in floors, construction joints and gaps around cables or pipes etc. As indoor air pressure is generally slightly lower than the outside air pressure radon gas can be sucked from the ground into a property. Outdoors radon is diluted to very low levels.
Q: Is there a safe level of radon in a home?
A: The Reference Level for homes in Ireland is 200 becquerel per cubic metre (Bq/m3). If your test results are above 200 Bq/m3, you should consider reducing the levels. The average radon level in Irish homes is 77 Bq/m3.
Q: How can radon in a home be prevented?
A: If a home was built after 1st July 1998 building regulations require that a standby radon sump is fitted during construction. This is a simple pipework that extends from under the foundations and is vented to the outside air. If high radon levels are subsequently measured the sump can be activated by adding a fan to it.
Properties that are built in High Radon Areas are required to install a radon barrier as well as a standby sump. These protective measures do not guarantee that radon levels will be below 200 Bq/m3.
Q: What is a High Radon Area?
A: Buildings in some areas of Ireland are more likely to have a radon problem. These parts of the country are known as High Radon Areas. The EPA provide an interactive map to see if your property is located in one of these areas. However the only way to know how much radon is actually inside your property is to undertake a radon test.
Q: How often do I need to test my home for radon?
A: If your home has tested below 200 Bq/m3 there is no need to re-test your home unless you carry out major refurbishment work to the property, such as building an extension or installing new windows. These types of works could possibly create new entry routes for radon or conversely prevent radon from now escaping from your home, increasing radon levels.
It is recommended that a home is retested when there is a change of occupancy.
Homes that have previously tested above the reference level of 200 Bq/m3 and have had remediation work carried out to reduce the radon levels, should be retested every 5 years to ensure that the remedial work is still effective.
Q: What kind of tests are there for Radon?
A: Property Health Check uses Radonova testing equipment exclusively. Radonova is the global leading company for radon measurements and is the only radon measurement provider in Ireland that has the ISO 17025 accreditation. (This is the same type of accreditation that EPA Ireland had before they shut down their measurement service). Radonova is the global leading company on radon measurements. No other provider of radon detectors in Ireland is tested to ISO 17025 standards.
We provide two apha track detectors, the Radtrak² and the Rapidos.
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 and Health Canada are both 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 rapid radon detector is for shorter measurements of at least 10 days. It is a practical detector to use when you need an indicative result at short notice. 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 a short-term test, you can quickly receive an indication of the properties radon level, and leave worry behind. This short term measurement is ideal for the property market.
Q: What is an alpha track detector?
A: Radonova use the alpha track method, whereby film elements are put into pods made 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 make microscopic tracks on the film which can then be counted. The alpha-track detectors are contained in airtight bags, the measurement starts when the bag is opened. When the measuring period has elapsed the detectors should be replaced in the original bags and sealed then immediately returned to Property Health Check for processing. Analysis is performed by Radonova using a state-of-the-art image scanner.
Q: How many detectors do I need?
A: The number of detectors required varies between the type of size of building and location, but to make an annual average value measurement in a house you need at least two detectors. .
Buildings and Schools
For buildings and schools people should check with their local department of health for any regulations.
Q: How do I get a quotation?
A: A quote will automatically be emailed when a pre-purchase survey is confirmed as 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: When will I receive my report?
A: You will receive your report about 7 days after the detectors are returned to the laboratory for analysis.
Q: I got my report, what does it mean?
A: The report includes a lot of information. The detector number(s), their location information, and the test results. The main piece of information to look at is your “Average Radon Concentration”. This is the radon level recorded during the time the test kit was deployed.
Next to the average radon concentration number there will be a +/- number called the standard deviation. This number is the variance in which your radon level may have fluctuated. It will always be a small number and have little to no impact on your average radon concentration. Any decisions on fixing a radon level should be made solely on your average level.
Ireland have set a guideline for exposure to radon and that level is 200 Bq/m3.
Q: What if the report reveals levels higher than 200 Bq/m3 ?
A: Remediation to reduce the radon levels is strongly recommended, but solutions will depend on both the level and structural variances of the property. Remedies could include activating a radon sump, retrofitting a radon sump and improving ventilation by installing extra wall vents.
Q: Where can I get a second copy of my report?
A: If you need a new copy of your report, you can login at anytime to RadOnline and using your commission number and password retrieve a copy of your report. Alternatively, you may contact Customer Service with your commission number and password and they can send you a new copy.
Q: What do I do if I have lost my commission number and/or password?
A: If you have misplaced or lost your commission and password you can contact Customer Service with your name and address and they can try and find the report for you. Looking up reports this way will take a bit longer but they will respond to you and let you know it is in process.
Q: How and when do I pay for the test?
A: Payment can be made by credit card, debit card, and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). Customer services will ask for payment details when the test is booked in, however credit or debit card payments are not actioned until the day the test is placed. Payment in full is required on the day of placement.