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Radon Protection

Radon is a natural radioactive gas. You cannot hear, smell, feel or see it. Radon results from minute amounts of naturally occurring uranium in bedrock and soils.

The gas can move via cracks and defects in the sub strata and disperse into the atmosphere.

Most Radon gas will harmlessly dilute into the outside air but some will find its way into buildings where it can concentrate.

For most UK residents Radon gas accounts for approximately 50% of the annual radiation dosage, other sources would be medical/dental X-rays, natural sunlight and from the food we eat and drink.

Unfortunately the prolonged exposure to high levels of Radon may increase the risk of developing lung cancer, so this is a public health issue rather than a structural consideration.

The Health Protection Agency recommends that Radon levels should be reduced in homes where the average is more that 200 Bq m-3. The government has endorsed this recommendation. The action level refers to the annual average concentration in a home.

When extensions are made to existing buildings in high Radon areas, or new buildings are constructed in these areas, the Building Regulations require that protective measures are taken against Radon entering the building.

Current UK Building Regulations specify the installation of Radon-proofing typically by means of an impermeable membrane in new homes constructed in Radon Affected Areas as defined by the current UK mapping.

Depending on the probability of buildings having high Radon levels, the Regulations may require either:

i.   No protective measures

ii.  Basic protective measures

iii. Full protective measures

In 2005 Radon levels were measured in 64 recently-constructed dwellings in the village of Brixworth, Northamptonshire, an area designated as a Radon Affected Area in 1992, all of which were known to have had Radon-proof membranes installed during construction. 11% of the dwellings surveyed were found to have Radon levels in excess of the Action Level, compared with the 17% average for all homes in the area, Radon-proofed or not. The results suggest that in approximately 60% of the homes surveyed, the installation of a membrane has not resulted in a reduction of average annual Radon concentrations to below the Action Level.

The conclusion was that Radon proof membranes used in new homes do not always provide adequate protection and the likely cause of this is inadequate installation or unidentified defects.

Typical Radon proof membranes are in physical sheet form manufactured from a blend of polymer films and require additional jointing tapes, corner profiles and top hot units for sealing pipe penetration.

Due to site topography and complicated building footprints the placement of physical sheet membranes can be difficult with the membrane having to be cut, folded, taped many times. If not sealed correctly then Radon gas can continue to penetrate which is unacceptable. Currently there is no requirement to test new homes in the United Kingdom.

This issue led to Sovereign Chemicals developing the Radon Barriercoat, a liquid applied gas membrane which can significantly reduce the potential for defective or inconsistent full footprint application.

Sovereign Radon Barriercoat has been independently tested by Saarland University, Hamburg, and found to be a complete barrier to Radon. It has been further studied by the British Board of Agrément and awarded a BBA certificate, confirming it’s suitability for this use. Incorporation of Radon reduction measures at the initial planning stage saves time and precludes the necessity to carry out a geological survey. This can save the construction contractors time and money, as the techniques employed are relatively inexpensive. Sovereign Radon Barriercoat provides Basic Radon Protection and a waterproof membrane complying with requirement C2 and C5 of Schedule 1 of the Building Regulations 2000 for England and Wales. Sovereign Radon Barriercoat will also provide protection from methane and carbon dioxide and thus finds use in construction on brown-fields sites.

Radon Barriercoat Brochure (PDF format)

For more information on Sovereign Radon Barriercoat or to request an individual specification, please contact us on the form below.

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