The EU and WHO have announced a new basic safety standards directive within the EU, asking for each country to come up with a set of rules regarding radon. Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that dramatically increases the risk of lung cancer for those who breathe it for long periods of time.
Just because these directives are coming into play, doesn’t mean you will see changes right away. You are your own best advocate: speak to your employer, the leader at your child’s kindergarten, the manager at your gym—anywhere that you or your family members spend a prolonged amount of time indoors, should be checked for radon. To learn more about your own radon levels, check out Airthings’ guide to responding to radon.
Starting February 2018, a set of new regulations will come into play in the European Union called the Basic Safety Standards Directive. The overall goal of the regulation is to protect the public from radon by ensuring that indoor radon concentrations are below 300 Bq/m3. Each country will provide their own set of regulations which will affect everyone including facility managers, employers, homeowners and the general public.
In short, individuals and businesses will need to regularly monitor their radon levels in dwellings, public spaces, and workplaces in order to follow the new regulations and minimize long-term health risks.
Since the European Commission recognizes that there is an increased risk of lung cancer from long-term exposure to any indoor radon levels over 100 Bq/m3, individual national action plans are required. These action plans are necessary to address the long-term health risks of radon exposure.
The plan requires each individual country to ensure good building practices to prevent radon from entering buildings. EU countries may need to implement national building codes to ensure that future building projects will provide effective protection against radon. Countries will also need to consider remedial action of radon, post-construction.
Secondly, the plan requires the Member States to identify specific areas where radon concentration is expected to exceed the national reference levels. The plan suggests surveying indoor radon concentration in homes, public spaces and workplaces to estimate the distribution of radon levels and create a reference level of exposure. Long-term radon measurement instruments are needed in order to map and assess risk in different areas.
Thirdly, the action plan should consider how to deal with radon mitigation once measurement and risk assessment has been completed. It suggests that the individual nations should create guidance for methods of measurement and mitigation of radon. Furthermore, they could consider a plan of financial support for homes with very high radon concentrations.
Lastly, the plan aims to increase public awareness of the risks of radon, methods and tools for measurements and remedial measures. For instance, it is recommended that the EU countries create a strategy for communicating the risks of radon to “increase public awareness and inform local decision makers, employers, and employees”.
Radon is a naturally occurring, colorless and odorless gas that comes from the ground. It stems from the decay of uranium which naturally occurs in the Earth’s crust. It is found everywhere: beneath our homes, schools, and workplaces. Since we spend 90% of our time indoors, this means that we are exposed to radon in the places we spend the most time.
In 2013, the European Commission appointed the Scientific and Technical Committee to research the dangers of ionizing radiation such as radon decay. The European Commission, with the information from the Committee, created a set of uniform standards to deal with the issue of ionizing radiation. This forms the base of the EURATOM Basic Safety Standards (BSS) Directive and will be applied to all European Union (EU) Member States. The changes will take place in early 2018 as all Member States will have to comply with the Basic Safety Standards Directive by the 6th of February 2018.
As seen from the new Basic Safety Standards Directive, radon will continue to be an important topic in health and safety, building management and employer responsibility moving forward. In the coming year it will be extremely important to measure radon levels. We believe the first step to address the problem with radon exposure is to make the invisible gas, visible.
By using digital radon detection devices such as the Airthings Wave, you gain full visibility of your short- and long-term levels in an easy to understand app or dashboard. With the Wave, there is no need to send to a lab, and there are never any additional labs fees. Radon measurement instruments will continue to play an important part of helping the European Commission to accomplish its objectives of addressing the health risks of long-term radon exposure.
Airthings has also developed a complete system to manage radon levels for both individuals and facility managers alike. The Airthings Ecosystem which includes the Wave Plus and the Hub will cover all needs of the new directive. One can create a system of Wave Plus’ to cover a large area and view results on the Airthings dashboard or through our apps. Employers will be able to cover entire offices, rental agencies can cover entire apartment buildings and complexes, and public leaders can cover large public spaces. With the addition of the Hub, you gain remote access to all of your airthings devices.
Radon is directly addressed in the Basic Safety Standards Directive in Article 54 concerning workplace radon levels, in Article 74 concerning indoor radon levels, and in Article 103 for the national action plan. If you want more of a detailed explanation of the plan, check out the summary made by Airthings. And don’t forget to share information about the radon directive, with this handy infographic.