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Radon in Ireland
and the New National Radon
Strategy
Radon Protection Conference
Dresden, 2-12-2013
Eamonn Smyth
Building Standards Section
Dept. of Environment, Ireland

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Presentation Overview
1. Background to Radon in Ireland
2. Current Building Regulation requirements
3. Radon in Schools program.
4. Why a Radon strategy-Current problems
5. Radon Strategy proposals for:
Training
Improved Prevention methods
Research

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What is the scale of the problem
• A National Radon Survey (NRS) was carried out
between 1992 to 1999.
• 11,319 houses were tested ie 1 per 116 of
National housing stock
• Measurements ranged from 10-1,924 Bqm
3
• 7% of houses (approx 91,000 houses) are
predicted to be above Reference Level 200
Bqm
3
with 700 over 1000 Bqm
3
• Further surveys/ measurements in schools and
workplaces present a similar picture.

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National Radon Survey
•11,319 homes Measured.
•For each 10 km grid square
the percentage of houses
above 200Bq/m
3
is
predicted.
•837 grids squares,
•Squares with > 10% are
designated High Radon Areas
i.e. 234 designated High
Radon Area
•59,000 houses>200 Bq/m
3
in High Radon areas.

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Health risks due to radon
2
nd
cause of lung cancer
after
smoking
More than
250 lung cancer
deaths annually
are linked to
radon (13% of all lung
cancers)
The risk to smokers is
25 times
the risk
of that to non-smokers
56% of radiation dose
to Irish
population from radon

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Home
Workplace
Where does exposure to Radon gas occur
Per Caput
Exposure to
radon

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When is radon a problem?
Reference Levels:
Homes:
200
Bq/m
3
(1990)
Schools:
200
Bq/m
3
(1998)
Workplaces:
400
Bq/m
3
(S.I. 125 of 2000)

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How much of a problem is radon for Ireland?
Average radon levels
89
Bq/m
3
(8
th
highest in
WHO survey)
About
91,000 homes
above 200 Bq/m
3
Only
7,600
of these have
been identified
A total of only
54,000
homes
measured
nationally

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Mean radon
concentrations
OECD countries
How do levels compare internationally
0
50
100
150

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How do we reduce Radon levels
• Prevent the problem in new buildings
through building controls
• Persuade home owners and employers to
test and, where necessary, fix the problem
in existing homes and workplaces
• Legal requirements concerning exposure
to radon in workplaces

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Building Regs - Requirements
Part A - Structure
Part B - Fire Safety
Part C - Site preparation
and moisture resistance
Part D - Materials/
workmanship
Part E - Sound
Part F - Ventilation
Part G - Hygiene
Part H - Drainage, waste
water disposal
Part J - Heat producing
appliances
Part K - Stairways,
Ladders, ramps & guards
Part L - Conservation of
fuel & energy
Part M- Access for
disabled people

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Building Regulation C & TGD C
Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture
• C3
Reasonable precautions shall
be taken to
avoid danger to health
and safety
caused by substances
(including contaminants)
found on or
in the ground
to be covered by a
building.
• “contaminant” includes any substance
which is or could become flammable,
explosive, corrosive, toxic or
radioactive
and any deposits of faecal
or animal matter;
• Section 2 addresses Radon for
designated High and Low areas.

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Radon map

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Standby Radon Sump in all new
dwellings
Standby Radon Sump
Design, location and frequency
(influence area at least 250m
2
)
No obstructions
Pipework connecting sumps should
terminate outside the external walls
of the building or in the attic space.
Pipes should be
capped
and
external pipes should be
sealed
to
prevent ingress of rainwater or
rodents
Clearly identified
as potential
outlets for Radon Gas
– Marker plate
– Pipe cap incorporating raised
lettering

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Radon Sump with capped
extraction pipe.

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Activated standby sump
Radon pipe
cover opened
and extended
for extraction

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Example of Active sump

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High Radon Areas
• a fully sealed
membrane of low
permeability over the
entire footprint of the
building
• a potential means of
extracting Radon from
the substructure such
as a standby Radon
sump

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Radon Barrier
• A Radon Barrier is NO guarantee of a Low radon
level in the finished dwelling.
• TGD C recommends a post occupation test so
that the Radon Sump can be activated if
necessary
• A Radon Barrier contributes significantly to
reducing the overall Radon concentrations.
The reduction appears to be inline with other EU
countries using Barriers.

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Radon Barrier with pipe penetration
The Barrier must be:
– In accordance with Part D
of the Building Regulations
– Materials and
Workmanship (& TGD D)
– Independent Certification
by an approved body eg
NSAI Irish Agrément Board
(IAB)
• Properly installed by trained
personnel, attention to detail,
and post – installation
protection

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Radon Barrier installation
• Radon Barrier extending to the outside leaf.
• All pipe penetrations sealed.

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Typical seals around penetrations

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Background to Schools Survey
The national radon survey identified high
radon areas in Ireland for dwellings.
• Studies in the early nineties in the West of
Ireland identified a number of schools with
high levels of radon gas
• In 1998, the Radiological Protection Institute
of Ireland (RPII) carried out a national survey
of radon levels in all primary and post primary
schools in the Republic of Ireland.

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Objective of Schools Survey
• To identify schools with
radon levels above 200
Bq/m
3
so that remedial
work could be carried out
to reduce radon exposure
to children and staff.

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Survey Methodology
Three Year Project (1998-2001)
Invitations to participate:
April
Return of application form:
June
Issue of detectors:
September (start school year)
Return of detectors:
May/June (end school year)
Issue of results
November
Remediation
November-
4068 Schools
3315 Primary
753 Post Primary

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1998 - 99
1999 - 00
2000 - 01
Radon Survey
in Schools

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Radon Measurement Protocol
• Passive measurements
• 1 track etch detector per room
• All occupied ground floor rooms were tested
• Duration of measurement was for 1 school year
(approximately 9 months)

No of Detectors Issued and Measurements
Completed for the Duration of the Survey
18947
351 264
17055
45211
8858
33834
11928
14669
6973
0
10000
20000
30000
40000
50000
Whole Survey
1998/1999
1999/2000
2000/2001
2001/2002
Survey Period
No of Detectors/Measurements
Detectors Issued
Measurements Completed
June 2002

School
Type
No of Schools
Mean
Bq/m
3
Standard
Deviation
GM
GSD
Max
Primary
2842
96.8
124.6 66.8
2.2
2748
Post
Primary
602
86.3
162.0 54.1
2.4
4948
all
schools
3444
93.1
139.6 61.8
2.3
4948
Summary of School Results
June 2002

Distribution of Maximum radon
concentrations in Irish Schools
2546
591
240
67
0
500
1000
1500
2000
2500
3000
< 200
200-400
400-1000
>1000
Highest radon measurement per school (Bq/m
3
)
Number of Schools
Survey End (June 2002)

Remediation of Radon in Schools
All remedial work was funded by central Government
200-400 Bq/m
3
(591 schools
)
-
Ventilation in Irish Schools was low (BRE study)
- Wall vents were installed in each affected room
- Reduction in radon concentrations of 50%
> 400 Bq/m
3
(307 schools)
-
Individual schools were assessed by a remediation expert and
active mitigation systems (mainly sumps) were installed
-Reduction in radon concentrations of 90%
Remedial work was completion by end 2003.
All remediated schools will be re-surveyed by RPII

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Reducing radon levels
Better ventilation can reduce levels by up to 50%

Main Findings/Conclusions
• This survey is unique insofar as every primary and post primary
school in the country was invited to participate
• 898 of the 3444 schools that completed the survey (June 2002)
had radon levels greater than 200 Bq/m
3
in one or more rooms
• Highest Radon measurement was 4948 Bq/m
3
The average radon value measured for schools with a
measurement period greater than 6 months was 93.1Bq/m
3
)
• A total of 3,826 schools were finally measured. (984 schools had
radon levels greater than 200 Bq/m
3
in one or more rooms and 329
greater than 400 Bq/m
3
.
• All schools with radon levels greater than 200 Bq/m
3
were
remediated. Remedial work was completed by the end of 2003 for
those in the initial survey.

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National Strategy
Why is it needed ?
• Low rates of testing resulted in the
standby sump not being activated
• Standby Sumps not understood
• Barrier only having a limited effect
• Existing dwellings not being tested
• Existing dwellings with high levels not
being remediated

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Rate of Remediation survey
Summary
• People seem reluctant to remediate even when
they know they have high levels
• Only 25% have remediated. Comparable to
previous surveys and internationally where 20%
to 30% is reported
• Non smokers are most concerned at radon, then
ex smokers. Active smokers seem unconcerned.
This is also seen internationally.

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Issues
Poor installation or positioning of sumps:
Pipe sloping downwards and water accumulating in
the pipe resulting in a water trap
Outlet positioned under or in front of obstacles or
opes

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Poor design and positioning
• Designer, Installer or
Certifier not aware of
its purpose.
• Belief that it had an
effect as fitted.
• Blatant lack of
knowledge and
understanding.

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Issues (cont.)
• Barriers poorly installed
– especially at corners &
– around penetrations
• Post installation damage
– By services
– By power floating
– By workmen

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Post installation damage

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Proposed Information &Training
• M.1
Short targeted training courses
should be provided for site staff on the
correct installation of radon preventive
measures and on maintaining the integrity
of those measures once installed
The aim of this would be to:
– Explain the dangers of Radon
The purpose of the standby sump
The necessity of maintaining the barrier intact
This course to be done through industry groups.

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Proposed Information &Training
• M.2
Basic information on radon should
be included on undergraduate courses
related to the construction industry:
– Currently the 3
rd
level training appears to deal
with barriers as part of the DPM (Damp Proof
Membrane) for buildings without any
emphasises on the dangers or reasoning
behind the requirements.
– Little knowledge of National reference levels,
etc

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Proposed Information &Training
• M.3
In cooperation with the relevant
professional bodies education on radon should
be integrated into the existing system of
continuous professional development (CPD) for
building professionals.
The aim here to increase the expertise of the
construction professional both for prevention and
resultant remediation using the sump
– Explain other remediation methods
– Design methods to reduce the risk of damage to
barriers

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Proposed Information &Training
• M.4
A web based knowledge resource
on radon should be developed for the
building industry
The aim is to have available:
– Information on the dangers
– methods of prevention and remediation
–FAQ’s for the homeowner and the
professional.

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Proposed TGD Changes
• M.5
The relevant Technical Guidance
document should be amended to require that a
passive sump be installed in all new dwellings
– There is increased evidence that a passive sump
reduces radon by 50% or more
– Little added cost to the current sump requirements
– Aids the proper positioning and installation.
• M.6
The relevant Technical Guidance
should be amended to include provisions, which
would allow radon preventive measures to be
more easily identified on site

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Passive Radon Sump
Pipe continues from Radon
Sump to external air.
Pipe vents above the roof
to:
•Give passive extraction
•Disperse gas to air.
Pipe readily identifiable to
prevent errors and misuse.
Very small capital cost.
Large reduction in Radon
infiltration
Easy connection of Fan for
future remediation.
Potential to attach a
rotating cowl for added
effect.

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Typical Radon vent pipe

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Pipe marking
• Identifies the purpose
• Prevents
inappropriate
connections ie waste
pipes or soil pipes
.

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Proposed Research
• M.7
The current requirement that barriers
are required in High Radon Areas should
remain. Research should be carried out to
assess the combined effectiveness of passive
sumps and barriers compared to the
effectiveness of barriers alone.
• M.8
Research on better barrier systems
and the appropriate placing of barriers to
improve barrier success rate and decrease post-
installation damage should be undertaken.

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Certification
• M.9
The installation of radon
preventive measures should be “signed
off” by a competent person.
The new Building Control (Amendment)
Regulations 2013, will result in new
building certification procedures requiring
sign off by competent persons on a wide
range of measures.

Other strategy proposals
The development of a recognised list of
competent remediation companies/contractors
to give confidence to the home owner.
• A validation or registration scheme for Radon
measurement services.
• Questions regarding Radon to be asked during
Conveyancing. (Sale,re sale or transfer of
property)
• Housing standards for rented private houses
should address Radon.
• Testing of social housing should continue.

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Research themes
Baseline values
What is the best approach to produce
• A new national average radon
concentration (current and future)
• A better radon map, bearing in mind
- no postcodes,
- bias in the existing data (excl.the NRS),
- should take account of new geological
information (TELLUS)
- is there a need to redefine HRA

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Research themes
Better targeting of resources
• Better mapping to enable
– improved predictors for localised anomalies
Eg Airborne radiometric surveys, ‘Radon potential’
mapping?
- easy identification of HRA
• Knowledge gaps in
– Impact of awareness campaigns on attitudes and
behaviour
- long term effectiveness of remediation solution
- insulation retrofit –increased air-tightness & its effect
on Radon if any

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Anomalies
Castleisland Dwelling.
1. Dwelling on border
between High Radon area
(HRA) and normal.
2. 49,000 Bq/m3 (highest
level ever measured in a
house in the country)
3. Both occupants, non
smokers, died of Cancer.
4. Why in this house?
Investigation not possible,
5. priority had to be given to
remediation
6. Geology (Karst limestone)
+ house features?
Dwelling

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Remediation methods

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Positive pressure systems
• Roof and wall mounted pressure systems
• Are they still appropriate under the Energy
Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).
• Could they be combined with MVHR systems?

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Radon in Ireland
and the New National Radon
Strategy
Thank You for your attention.

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