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Karl Nilsson

Short-term measurement of radon: the right choice when selling a house

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Radon is an issue that frequently crops up in connection with the sale of a house. When time pressures are a factor and quick decisions are needed, up-to-date and reliable measurement of radon levels in the home is often overlooked. One solution in these cases may be short-term measurement. Correctly performed short-term measurement provides both buyer and seller with an indication of the radon level and data that can simplify the process going forward.

The world’s most accurate short-term measurement

In order to meet demand for reliable measurements, Radonova has developed the world’s most accurate radon detector for short-term measurement – Rapidos. Rapidos is currently used the world over and often in connection with the sale of houses. So what makes Rapidos better than other radon detectors?

The most important features that distinguish Rapidos from other detectors are:

  • Option to measure radon levels as low as 50 Bq/m³
  • Extremely reliable result compared with other solutions for short-term measurement
  • Safe, date-marked vacuum packs for delivery of the radon detectors
  • The market’s fastest analysis and response times

Rapidos can measure radon with a relatively high degree of reliability, as the detector’s measurement volume is two to three times greater than that of other brands. The measurement volume is the amount of air contained in the detector’s chamber (where the actual measurement process takes place). A larger volume enables you to measure more alpha particles, which form when radon decays. This in turn provides broader and better data for the actual analysis.

High quality across the board

The ability to perform very precise short-term measurement is also down to the uniquely clean film element that is used during manufacture of the radon detectors. In order to achieve an accurate analysis, it is important that as few tracks as possible are made during the manufacturing and packaging process (i.e. before measurement begins). These tracks are called background tracks. Radonova’s closely monitored manufacturing process is performed in a clean environment with full traceability to keep the number of background tracks to a minimum. In order to avoid exposing the radon detectors to radon during transport, all detectors are also packaged in a vacuum. This makes it easy to see whether a pack is leaking.

Radonova regularly participates in various external comparative tests to guarantee consistently high product quality. Radonova’s radon measurements are also audited annually by a third-party auditor that issues certification in accordance with ISO 17025, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
Radonova’s short-term measurements also surpass other solutions by offering the market’s shortest delivery and analysis times. This is particularly important when selling a house, which often involves time pressure.

Radon in brief

Radon is an invisible gas that comes from the ground and is present in the air we breathe. Radon decays into radon progeny, which are radioactive metal atoms. These get trapped in our airways and emit radiation. In this way, high levels of radon can cause lung cancer.

Elevated radon levels are the biggest carcinogenic health risk you can be exposed to as far as indoor air is concerned. Globally around 230,000 people develop lung cancer every year because of elevated radon levels.

Radon maps don’t show radon levels in a specific building

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‘Radon maps’ is a term that frequently crops up when talking about the risk of radon. A radon map provides a general picture of the areas where there is a risk of high radon levels. These maps are available at both national and regional level. The problem with radon maps is, however, that they are a very blunt tool for anyone wanting to find out about radon levels in a specific building.

Despite this, Radonova is seeing a growing number of cases where private individuals and workplaces are using radon maps to try to determine the radon level in their specific indoor environment.

“Radon maps are designed to be used when you want a more general geographic breakdown of low-risk and high-risk zones. It is, however, very difficult to draw any reliable conclusions from these about radon levels inside a particular building,” comments Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories.

“The relevant authorities and experts often have good knowledge of the applications for which radon maps can be used. Problems tend to arise when the general public draw conclusions from the maps about radon levels in their own home.”

This is why radon maps do not show radon levels in a specific building

Below are some of the reasons why radon maps are not a reliable tool for determining radon levels in a specific building.

Radon maps do not show local variations

When producing a radon map, very few measurements are performed per square kilometre. Radon levels can vary significantly in such a large area and also markedly between buildings on the same street. Radon levels indoors largely depend on the building’s construction and the air permeability of the soil, which can vary widely locally.

There is no standard for the production of radon maps

To produce a radon map, measurement data is either obtained by measuring ground radon levels or using data from indoor measurements in the area. With ground radon measurement there is no clear link between the level of radon in the ground and indoor radon levels. There is certainly an increased risk with high ground radon levels, but other factors, such as construction technology, can have a greater impact. However, if the radon map is based on indoor measurements, then the results are therefore heavily dependent on the type of building structure where the measurement was recorded. This in turn need not be relevant in any way for another building close by.

Radon can be emitted by building materials

In a country like Sweden the use of blue lightweight concrete is a clear example of how a building material comes into play when measuring radon levels. In Sweden around 15 per cent of all elevated radon values are caused by blue lightweight concrete. A radon map, however, does not take into account the material used in a building.

The maps can be generated from old measured values

Measured radon levels are to some extent ‘perishable’. A measurement taken 15 years ago, for example, is no longer reliable. A lot may have happened over the years in and around the building in question to change radon levels. Modernisations, changes to ventilation and groundwork are just a few examples of factors that can have a major impact on indoor radon levels. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority recommends performing a new measurement every 10 years.

“With this in mind, you shouldn’t rely on radon maps if you want to know what the radon levels are in a specific building. Even if you live in an area that is defined on the radon map as a low-risk zone, there may still be very high radon levels indoors. Given that radon, after smoking, is the most common cause of lung cancer, there is every reason not to rely on this type of map when trying to determine radon levels in the home and at workplaces,” concludes Karl Nilsson.

Measure in the building

The only way to get a reliable picture of radon levels in indoor air is to measure them. This can be done in an affordable manner using radon detectors. Radon maps still have a role to play, however, as they can provide the authorities with an overview that makes it easier to prioritise inspection efforts.

Radon map

Finland ahead of the rest of Europe

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-Radon measurement in the workplace is commonplace 

It’s not just in school education that Finland is ahead of the rest of Europe. When it comes to measuring radon in workplaces, they are a step ahead there too. Measuring radon in Finnish workplaces has been commonplace for a number of years for Radonova’s partner Suomen radonhallinta.  

Even before the new Radiation Protection Act was introduced on 1 June this year, the Swedish Work Environment Authority imposed the requirement that the hygienic limit value for radon (0.36 MBqh/m3) must not be exceeded in Swedish workplaces. And yet there were only around 3,000 instances of workplace measurement in Sweden during 2017, compared with around 70,000 instances of measurement in homes. In the rest of Europe also there is less workplace measurement compared with measurement in homes.

“It is hard to say exactly how much workplace measurement we have performed, but it is well into the thousands. Then of course there are several other operators also measuring radon in workplaces. In Finland there are around 60 high-risk areas where employers are obliged to measure radon in the workplace. Considering that radon is reckoned to cause lung cancer in 300 to 400 Finns every year, there is of course every reason to comply with the existing regulations,” comments Jarkko Ruokonen at Suomen radonhallinta.

Common cause of lung cancer

“Although we are seeing increased demand for workplace measurement this year, it is clear that a lot of workplaces will not manage to comply with the new legal requirements. Here it seems as if Finland has been quick to take the radon issue seriously. Just as in the rest of Europe, radon is, after smoking, the single biggest cause of lung cancer in the population. If we are to bring the figures down, greater efforts are required, as is cooperation between employers, public authorities and private operators,” comments Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories.

“If you haven’t already taken radon measurements at your workplace then it is high time you did so. Quite apart from the fact that as an employer you are risking exposing your employees to a serious health hazard, there can be serious repercussions for employers who do not comply with the law. Here I absolutely think that the rest of Europe should be aiming to take the radon issue at least as seriously as Finland does,” concludes Karl Nilsson.

finland

Jarkko Ruokonen at Suomen radonhallinta measures radon at a workplace in Finland. “Our cooperation with Radonova is going really well. They have a modern lab that is certified in accordance with ISO17025, reliable products and excellent customer service.”

Benjamin Portin sees opportunities at Radonova

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Settling into a new job isn’t always easy. Benjamin Portin, however, has quickly become a part of Radonova Laboratories. After starting as a temporary worker at Radonova, Benjamin now works full-time in the company’s production and analysis department.

“Naturally, it helps that, in my case, I worked at Radonova while I was studying. But I get the feeling that this is a workplace where you quickly become one of the team. It’s also a place where you have great freedom with responsibility. There’s very little micromanaging here, instead, everyone knows what needs to be done without needing instructions for each work stage,” says Benjamin.

Growth and strict demands have to be matched

As a world leader on a market with strict demands in all stages, the continued success is based on the company and employees being in sync. Promoting a corporate culture characterised by dedication and a willingness to learn is a key component. Another is that all employees see opportunities to develop.

“It’s nice to work at a company where you know that several of the managers started on the shop floor, like me. Anyone who is both driven and willing to learn has every opportunity to develop. This is a company and market that offers very exciting career opportunities,” continues Benjamin.

“Radonova is currently growing in several markets. At the same time, we’ve positioned ourselves as a company with very high quality, and the fastest delivery and analysis times on the market. In turn, this places strict demands on each individual employee. Everyone has an important role to play and we’re mutually dependent. Clearly this is a team effort,” comments Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories.

The work itself is important

It’s estimated that more than 200,000 people a year die as a result of radon-related lung cancer. More and more countries are beginning to understand the importance of working to reduce exposure to radon.

“People’s knowledge of radon in general is still quite basic. At the same time, it’s clear that many people are surprised that understanding what the situation is where you live or work doesn’t have to be difficult. In many cases, remedying an elevated radon level doesn’t have to be particularly complicated either. Obviously, it’s more enjoyable to go to work knowing that what we do helps to influence human health for the better,” Benjamin concludes.

Benjamin studied the nature programme at upper secondary school. Today he works with production and the analysis of radon samples.

Radonova

“It’s time the new Radiation Protection Act for workplaces is taken seriously”

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Sweden’s new Radiation Protection Act came into force on 1 June 2018. Now the country’s employers have to be aware of the radon levels in our workplaces. Employers also have to take action that may reasonably be required to tackle radon levels over the hygienic limit value of 200 Bq/m³.

What are your impressions since the law came in?

Unfortunately, knowledge of radon is generally low. I’d also say that a great many of Sweden’s employers are unaware of what the new law means. Essentially, it’s about a health issue and about employees not being exposed to radon levels above the hygienic limit value. After almost half a year, you might think it’s time to take the law seriously.

Another observation is that when companies contact us and we describe how radon is monitored, the response is often, “That’s simple, we should have done this earlier.”

Monitoring radon properly from the offset gives both the employer and employees the peace of mind of knowing what the radon levels are at work. If you carry out proper monitoring and it turns out that the limit value is being

How do we monitor radon in workplaces and what should we be considering?

Basically, it’s easy to monitor radon. You order radon detectors, deploy them, record data, collect the detectors and send them to the radon laboratory, which will return a report by e-mail or online. However, there are several aspects to consider, such as how many radon detectors are needed for reliable monitoring? Another question is how can the work be done as efficiently as possible? The biggest cost of radon monitoring is the time it takes to deploy the detectors, record the data and then retrieve them again. This is vital for ensuring efficiency and safety in all stages of the process.

Real estate companies that carry out monitoring in, say, shopping malls, are one example of an efficient approach. It’s an added value for the tenants if radon monitoring takes place in each store without the tenants having to carry out their own monitoring. If the real estate company carries out the monitoring with, say Radonova, they have full control and avoid a situation arising later on where individual premises have elevated radon levels.

How many radon detectors are needed to monitor radon in the workplace?

For radon monitoring in the workplace, we recommend following the guidelines from IRMA (the International Radon Measurement Association). You will then meet your national requirements as well. The advantage of IRMA’s guidelines is that their recommended measurement procedure helps to save time.

Are there any common misconceptions about monitoring in the workplace?

One common misconception is that it’s sufficient to carry out monitoring in one in every five rooms or use one detector per 500 m³ in large premises. The information can be found in the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s method description, but it also says that monitoring should be carried out where there are suspected high radon levels, and in rooms that have or are adjacent to pipework, which can increase the risk of high radon levels. In principle, this means that monitoring should take place in all rooms where employees spend more than four hours a week.

Radonova is a World leader in radon monitoring. Describe why you´ll be a leader in this market, too…

We offer safe, accredited monitoring methods and our products can be used in public environments. We also offer the fastest delivery and shortest analysis times on the market. Radonova has invested heavily in user-friendliness where companies that carry out radon monitoring simply record data about deployment and the monitoring dates. The results of the analysis are also easily accessible via our web application. All of the stages of our process are efficient and safe, and the work and time taken to carry out monitoring are minimized.

Read more about radon and radon monitoring here»
https://radonovalaboratories.com/

For further information on radon monitoring in the workplace, please contact Johan Olsson, phone: +46 (0)18-56 88 00, e-mail: johan.olsson@radonova.com

workplaces

Johan Olsson of Radonova Laboratories is a specialist in workplace monitoring. He describes his view of efforts to monitor radon in the workplace.

Radonova’s radon measurements get top marks from Europe’s leading radiation protection body

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Radonova Laboratories has achieved excellent results in reference tests.

The reference tests was finally conducted by the German Federal Office For Radiation Protection (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz – BfS). Comparative tests of four different radon samples show us that Radonova’s results in all cases differ. This with less than ten percent from the respective reference value.

The BfS is Europe’s leading player in the calibration of radon measurement equipment. One of the few accredited to calibrate based on ISO 17025 standard.

All radon doses are exposed to different levels of radon in this current reference tests. Then after that they are compared with the official reference values that are specified by BfS.

“Radonova has consequently been participating in comparative tests of this kind for many years, and we achieve consistently good results. The latest test results are also a confirmation that we are right at the forefront when it comes to reliable radon measurements”. Says the CEO of Radonova Laboratories, Karl Nilsson.

reference tests

“The comparative tests by the Bfs are probably the most demanding anywhere. They certainly set extremely high standards at all stages. It feels good to have our capacity confirmed by an actor like BfS. It is important that our customers should always associate Radonova with the highest quality and reliability”. Ads Radonova Laboratories’ radon specialist José-Luis Gutiérrez Villanueva.

For more information, contact Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories AB.

Read more about radon and radon measurements here.

Radon Workshop – Radonova’s measurement expert attends IAEA meeting

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Radon issues call for international coordination

As part of the work of improving coordination and contributing to more uniform processes for analysing and measuring radon, the IAEA recently organised a radon workshop in Sarajevo. José-Luis Gutiérrez Villanueva from the Swedish company Radonova was present as a specialist in radon measurement. We put some questions to José-Luis, who is one of Europe’s leading experts in this field.

Why is a radon workshop of this kind significant?

Its an important forum, this meetings. We can study all findings from different countries and can share them with others. It is also an important meeting-place for those countries that are not members of the EU and hence covered by EURATOM BSS but are in the IAEA and covered by IAEA BSS. In that sense, the IAEA radon workshop gives us a broad and effective platform for exchanging knowledge.

In what way is it important to have an international perspective on the question of radon?

By looking at this from a global perspective, we can see the differences in the way various countries handle the problem of radon. Although there are international guidelines and regulations.  There are big differences in the work done and the radon programmes in different countries. A radon workshop meeting of this kind helps us to exchange knowledge. Also to reach a common understanding of how best to approach the work. In this case, we were particularly interested in how databases and analyses of statistics from different studies can be used.

What would you say is the biggest challenge if we look at radon as a global problem?

One of the major challenges is how to communicate around issues concerning radon in general and the risks in particular. The differences in priorities and judgment of risk areas are one example. Different countries can arrive at different risk assessments and classifications even though the geological conditions are basically the same.

radon workshop

José-Luis Gutiérrez Villanueva has worked on radon issues and radon workshops for the last 15 years. He wrote his PhD on ‘Radon exposure in dwellings of lung cancer patients: case-control study’ (University of Cantabria, 2016), and is an expert in data analysis and different ways of measuring radon. As secretary of the European Radon Association, José-Luis also has extensive experience of international work with radon .

IAEA is short for the International Atomic Energy Agency. BSS stands for Basic Safety Standards.

The title of the event held in Sarajevo from 12-14 June 2018 was ‘Regional Workshop: on database and statistical analyses, harmonisation of protocols and procedures for the measurement of radon’.

Global study confirms the harmful effects of radon

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Global study confirms the harmful effects of radon

A study based on data from 66 countries and presented in Environmental Health Studies (EHP) confirms that there is a clear link between exposure to radon and the risk of lung cancer. Updated data from 2012 show that around 226,000 people died that year from radon-related lung cancer. That means that about three per cent of all those who die from some form of cancer do so because of radon.

“After smoking, radon is therefore the commonest cause of lung cancer. It makes radon a serious global health problem that we must combat with knowledge and modern technology. This says Karl Nilsson, CEO. for Radonova Laboratories.

“We can now detect and deal with many of the harmful levels of radon. But most importantly we need many countries to take the issue of radon more seriously. Sweden and the US are relatively far ahead in combating radon exposure. However, other parts of the world have not begun to take the necessary steps to reduce the health risks and fatalities,” says Karl Nilsson.

The study is presented in issue no 5 (2018) of EHP and can be accessed here » ehp.niehs.nih.gov/EHP2503

Radonova launches new web application

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Radonova launches new web application

Information in real time and a completely new interface

Radonova Laboratories is launching a new version of its web application for customers and partners – RadOnline. The new web application has a completely new and intuitive user interface. It gives users secure access to reports, measurement jobs and other data, all updated in real time.

The launch of the new application is intended to make it even easier to use Radonova’s services in the field of radon measurement and analysis of radon samples. The new version of RadOnline makes both clear and detailed information available securely. Whether the user logs in from a PC, smartphone or other mobile device. The web application now also has simpler navigation, efficient search, filter and export functions.

Radonova launches new web application - Radonline

“By linking ‘My pages’ to Radonova’s database, we give customers the simplest and quickest possible access to the information they need. We have also developed the latest version to be a useful aid in both large and small measurement projects. It is also important to provide a positive customer experience at all stages.

With the new RadOnline, we aim to combine reliable radon measurements and top quality with even better service to our customers,” says the CEO of Radonova Laboratories, Karl Nilsson.

The new web application in brief:

  • Better overview and facility to enter measurement data and download results.
  • Filter measurements on e.g. address, property name, order code etc.
  • Download consolidated reports in PDF format
  • Flexible design adapts to the device used

History, information and current measurement jobs are unchanged. And also accessible to Radonova’s customers and partners via the new web application. For further information on the new web application, e-mail Radonova’s sales department on kundservice@radonova.se.