The principal radiation source to which most workers are exposed is the naturally occurring radioactive gas Radon.
When Radon enters an enclosed space, such as your place of work, it can sometimes build up to hazardous concentrations. Radon can enter a building from the ground through small cracks in floors, walls and service entry points etc. Radon is drawn in to a building from the ground because of the difference in air pressure between the warmer internal air within a building and the external air. The warm indoor air is less dense than the outdoor air. Radon levels are generally highest in cellars and basements because these areas are nearest to the source and are often poorly ventilated.
The radioactive Radon gas accumulated within the building will decay to produce tiny radioactive particles. When these particles are inhaled they are deposited in your airways and on your lung tissue. This radiation dose can result in lung cancer.
Law and Health & Safety Regarding Radon Testing
Radon is measured in Becquerel’s per cubic metre (Bq/m3) and is present in all Buildings. In 1990 the Government set a National Reference level of 400(Bq/m3) for Workplaces measured over a 3 month period. This Reference Level is specified by law in S.I. No. 125 of 2000 and also falls within the scope of the Safety, Health and Welfare Act, 2005. If radon concentrations above 400 (Bq/m3) are found, the employer MUST protect the health of workers, by carrying out remedial actions to reduce Radon levels. Radon testing is legally required in occupied ground-floor and basement areas of indoor workplace premises located in High Radon Areas (Only those workplaces or work areas that are occupied for more than 100 hours per year need to be tested). The only way to know the levels of Radon is to have a test carried out. OBW Technologies provides this test.
The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland advocates that all ground floor and basement Workplace buildings, both old and new, are tested for Radon. In the parts of the Country that have been designated as High Radon Areas, over 1 in 10 or more buildings are predicted to have Radon readings above the National Reference Level. High Radon levels can still be found in parts of the country not designated as High Radon Areas. Radon levels can differ a lot between buildings, so even if a neighbouring building was measured for Radon and the readings were below the National Reference Level, this is no indication of the levels in your Workplace and you should have your own Workplace tested. Testing is the only way to find out if the Radon levels are safe in your Workplace.
OBW supply the special approved Radon detectors which are used to measure Radon in your Workplace. We carry out Radon testing to protocols set down by the RPII for both the Home and Workplace with long-term measurement of the average radon concentration, giving the most reliable indication of whether or not a radon problem exists (3 month test).
The 3 month test (recommended by RPII)
Guide for determining number of detectors
|Type of Workplace
|Number of Detectors
|Examples of Workplaces
|Office (individual rooms)
|One detector per room
|Open plan office,
Retail and Workshop up to 1000m2,
Public access areas.
|One detector per 200 m2
|Admin offices, Call centres,
Light industry, Hotel foyers.
|Areas from 1000m2 to 5000m2
|One detector per 400 m2
|Large areas above 5000m2
|One for each distinct area within the overall area
(Not less than one per 500m2)
|Large manufacturing plants,
|One in each room that is normally occupied.
|Bank vaults, Store rooms, Plant rooms.
When you purchase your Radon testing kit, the number of detectors ordered will be sent to you in the post along with instructions.
The Radon testing kit will contain a number of small detectors (about the size of a Kimberley biscuit) which you place in your Workplace for 3 months.
The detectors are placed in your Workplace in the areas that were determined when you placed your order.
Detectors should be placed in locations where they will not be moved or interfered with for the 3 month test period. The detector should be placed at one to two metres above the floor away from air vents, open windows, heaters and radiators. All workers should be advised what the detector are (including cleaning and night security staff).
After 3 months, the detectors are returned to OBW for laboratory analysis to see how much radon they have been exposed to in your Workplace.
We will issue a report to you showing the test results. It will give you the Radon level for each area in your Workplace. If the radon level in each area is below the statutory value of 400 (Bq/m3), no further action is required. The report should be kept on file. If radon level is above the statutory value of 400 (Bq/m3) in any area, you must notify the RPII.
If the Radon levels are high in your Workplace, we will provide advice on Radon reduction methods.
Radon detector kit can purchased from us for €50 (2 Detectors). Additional detectors cost €25 each (please contact us for advice, we may be able to offer further discounts for the additional detectors).
Under the 1997 Building Regulations (Technical Guidance Document (TGD) – C) all new buildings constructed after July 1998 should have Radon protection measures installed.
In High Radon Areas, a Radon barrier membrane and standby sump with pipework terminating in the footpath should have been installed. In areas other than High Radon Areas, a standby sump with pipework should have been installed.