Radon and health

High concentrations of radon pose a health risk

Approximately 50 per cent of the annual radiation dose received by people in Finland comes from radon present in indoor air. Long-term exposure to high radon levels in the home considerably increases the risk of lung cancer. In Finland, some 300 people develop lung cancer every year due to exposure to radon. For smokers, the risk caused by radon is much higher than for non-smokers. Although there have been some indications of other health hazards, according to current knowledge, the only health hazard caused by radon is lung cancer.

Radon in dwellings

The uranium in the soil produces radon, which is a gas that can enter residential buildings through the cracks in the base floor of the building. Depending on the number and size of the cracks, the pressure ratios in the building, and the type of soil, radon concentrations may vary significantly from dwelling to dwelling. Radon concentrations may vary substantially even within a single postal code area, so even if the radon concentration in your neighbour’s home is low, the concentration in yours may be much higher. The greater the underpressure in a dwelling, the more likely it is that air containing radon enters the building from the soil. Mineral-based construction materials, such as concrete and aerated concrete, as well as bore well water containing radon, may increase the radon concentration in indoor air.

Radon in schools and daycare centres

Safe radon concentration levels are also a priority in public buildings. STUK regulates employees’ exposure to radon at the work place. The local health protection authority monitors the radon in daycare centres, schools and other public buildings for the benefit of children. STUK has also carried out radon monitoring projects at schools and daycare centres. More information on the radon inspections of the indoor air of daycare centres can be found on the STUK website.

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