Radon Gas is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, which is found in uranium in rock strata beneath the earth, particularly prevalent in areas with granite bedrock.
The difficulty is that you cannot see it feel it or touch it.
Radon Gas also permeates its way into the Conveyancing process when you buy your home as a standard question in the Local Authority Search.
All very interesting, but what you may say is it, and what has it got to do with me and my dream home.
Welcome to Chapter 22 of our Series, your Conveyancing Questions Answered All in One Place: Radon Gas
Why is Radon Gas Singled Out?
The simple reason is that long-term exposure to Radon Gas may increase the risk of certain types of cancer notably lung cancer.
It would be wrong to single out Radon Gas as the main cause as it is only one of several factors in such illnesses.
Your Conveyancing Solicitor will alert you early on in the conveyancing process after the results of the Local Authority search have been received.
What Areas of the Country are most affected?
There are traces in most parts of the country, but higher than average incidences are found in counties such as Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.
If you are buying a house and in Bristol, Bath or the Cotswolds, these areas are affected by Radon Gas, but are usually within permitted levels.
Wales and the Pennine district are other areas to note.
What About New Houses?
Since 1988, the National House Builders Council (NHBC) added sub-floor ventilation as part of its requirements for its 10 Year Guarantee and Warranty for news house under its scheme.
The sub-floor ventilation dissipates any build up of the gas and helps disperse it
The NHBC requirements state that:
"In areas where there is a high radon potential, full radon protection is required.
This should comprise a radon barrier across the ground floor supplemented by provision for subfloor depressurisation or ventilation (either a radon sump or a ventilated subfloor void).
Where the radon barrier is installed below the ventilated air space under a suspended concrete floor, a radon sump will be needed below the radon barrier to provide provision for this."
What About Older Properties?
Radon Gas is predominately an issue for older houses built before 1988
The good news is that you can test the property and take relatively inexpensive countermeasures.
Countermeasures include increasing the sub floor ventilation.
If you are still worried you can install monitoring equipment which will judge levels of Radon usually over a 9 month period.
Everything You Need to Know About Radon Gas
Public Health England have a comprehensive investigation into Radon Gas on its website here.
There is also a 60-second overview animation about radon 'a beginners guide to radon'.
Public Health England suggests the following as some simple actions such as:
"sealing around loft-hatches, sealing large openings in floors and extra ventilation do not reduce radon levels on their own. When combined with other effective measures, they can improve the reduction of radon levels."
Will Radon Gas affect my ability to sell my home?
It is unlikely to do so even where properties were built prior to 1988.
The time taken to monitor is usually the reason why most people would not bother. It would always be possible for a buyer to have works done (at their expense, unless the Seller agrees to pay for it) after completion has taken place.
In my conveyancing experience of almost 35 years we have not come across a Seller who has had monitoring or remedial work carried out to their property because of Radon Gas concerns.
In all case where you have any anxieties, a test will be the only sure way of discovering and you may consult the local Environmental Health Department of your local council may be able to offer advice.