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Finland ahead of the rest of Europe

By | Workplace | No Comments

-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.”

“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.

Radon can be a health risk in ordinary workplaces

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Workplace radon is a so-called “inert” gas that emits ionising radiation, which means that radon is radioactive. Therefore it is also a potent risk. Ionising radiation can cause damage to cells, which in turn leads to illnesses such as cancer. Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer that can be caused by radon.
Radon gas is an element that can come directly from the ground because radon is created when uranium decays. It therefore exists naturally, which can affect properties that have basements with poor insulation. Or that are otherwise in direct contact with the ground.

How do you know if radon is a health risk in the workplace?

It is easy to measure radon levels in the workplace to see whether the value exceeds the limit above which radon is estimated to be a health risk. If the radon level is above 400 Bq/m³, it could mean that spending too much time in the property entails a direct health risk.

Measuring radon levels is simple and straightforward using radon boxes placed in rooms in which people spend the most time. In the case of homes, they are normally placed in bedrooms and living rooms. In the case of a workplace, it is a question of finding similar places in which people spend a lot of time.

There are two different kinds of radon boxes available: those offering long-term measurement or those offering short-term measurement. Long-term measurement must be carried out during the winter months and needs to last for two to three months to provide the most complete results possible for radon levels in the property. A so-called “annual average value” for the radon levels can be obtained from long-term measurement. There are also boxes that are used to carry out short-term measurements. A measurement with these boxes only takes around 10 twenty-four hour periods. Short-term boxes can be used at any time of year. Nevertheless, the results they give are not as accurate as long-term measurements.

What do you do about high radon levels?

There are a couple of different ways of dealing with high radon levels. One of the most common ways is to simply increase the ventilation to reduce the concentration of radon in the air.

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