Radon gas levels by postcode: UKHSA and BGS publish updated map including most radioactive areas in the UK

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UKHSA and BGS have published an updated map showing where in the UK is home to the radioactive radon gas

UKHSA and BGS have published an updated map showing radon gas levels by postcode. The radioactive gas is attributed to 1,100 lung cancer deaths per year in the United Kingdom.

Radon is present across the UK but it’s far more densely located in rural and countryside areas such as the South West of England, parts of Wales, and Yorkshire Dales. The updated map shows that higher levels of radon are concentrated in the West of England and Wales while London, Norwich and York are affected by radon the least.

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However, planning permission and building regulations take into account areas of high radon and encourage protective measures to be taken against radon entering the building. Authorities will judge whether a building needs no protective measures, basic protective measures, or full protective measures.

Radon levels across the UK have not risen and the risk of developing lung cancer from exposure to radon remains low. Despite this, UKHSA advises everyone to test their home if they live or work in an Affected Area.

Tracy Gooding, principal radiation protection scientist at UKHSA, said: “While the vast majority of buildings remain outside radon Affected Areas, if the property you own is in a radon Affected Area, it is important that you arrange for a test. If you live in private or social rented accommodation, speak to your landlord, who should organise a test for you to carry out.”

What is radon?

According to the United Kingdom Health Security Agency: “Radon is a colourless and odourless gas that is formed by the radioactive decay of the small amounts of uranium that occur naturally in all rocks and soils.”

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The gas is harmful as its elements decay and emit radiation which can cause damage in living tissues and increase the risk of cancer. The radioactive elements formed by the decay of radon can be inhaled, enter our lungs and continue to emit radiation inside our bodies.

Humans are constantly exposed to radiation through natural sources but exposure to higher levels of radiation incur more health risks, which is why it’s imperative to constantly assess levels of radon in buildings.

Russell Lawley, principal geologist at BGS, said: “Radon occurs in all rocks and soils. Using a revised statistical approach to our mapping of geology across Great Britain has enabled us to model where this geo-hazard is more likely to be present in buildings.

“This map is a significant update to the previously published version and will help to raise awareness about this geohazard.”

You can view the map via the UK Radon website.

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