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January 2018

Can we reduce radon levels? Yes, we can do that!

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Interview Dr. Borja Frutos-Vazquez

On a recent interview for one Spanish radio station, Dr. Borja Frutos-Vazquez made an excellent review of radon fundamentals and radon prevention and remediation techniques. He covers most aspects from what radon is to how to remove radon from dwellings. The interview is in Spanish, but it is worth the effort to listen to. Dr. Frutos-Vazquez is a prominent researcher on radon in Spain and he was member of the EC of ERA (European Radon Association; www.radoneurope.org). You can access the interview on the following link: https://www.ivoox.com/que-hacer-frente-al-radon-audios-mp3_rf_23344947_1.html

It is possible to reduce radon levels and it is task to be accomplished by all members of the society, from general public to the stakeholders and policy makers.

EU Directive 2013/59/Euratom offer better protection towards radon

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The Council of the European Union issued the new Directive EURATOM Basic Safety Standards (BSS) in January 2014. This document aims to offer better protection for people in workplaces and in dwellings. The document introduces radon gas for the first time into the radiological protection system and establishes a reference level of 300 Bq m-3. In addition to this, the occupational exposure regulation for radon in workplaces has 6 mSv y-1 as the limit value. Above this limit, the situation should be managed as a planned exposure situation and below the limit the requirement is to keep exposures under review.

Implementation in February 2018

The deadline to implement the new Directive is February 2018. Not only reference levels must be introduced in the 28 EU countries, but also national radon action plans have to be developed. Traditionally, the situation of radon policies throughout Europe has been very different from country to country. Nordic countries, Ireland and the UK have some of the most advanced radon programmes while southern countries have done much less to tackle the radon issue.

Main articles about radon

There are four articles very relevant in terms of radon exposure: Art. 2, Art. 54, Art. 74 and Art. 103. According to Article 2, the Directive applies in particular to the exposure of workers or members of the public to indoor radon. So, after implementation of the new Directive, all EU member states will have to include all sectors of their population into the system of radiological protection when it comes to monitoring radon exposure. Articles 54 (radon exposure at workplaces) and 74 deal with the reference level in the member states. The reference levels for the annual average activity concentration in air shall not be higher than 300 Bq m−3. Finally Article 103 refers to the establishment of a national action plan addressing long-term risks from radon exposure in dwellings, buildings with public access and workplaces for any source of radon ingress. Annex XVIII on the document sets out the issues of the action plan.

Five countries have already implemented EU Directive 2013/59/Euratom

Article 106 of the Directive clearly states that “Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 6 February 2018”. In order to get an overview of the implementation’s state, the recent International Workshop on the European Atlas of Natural Radiation dedicated a special session to the implementation state. Almost all EU member states made a presentation and it was concluded that only 5 countries have already implemented the Directive at the time of the workshop. Some countries will implement the new legislation on time before the deadline but a significant amount of member states will have problems complying on time.