Radon Radon

Radon

Radon

National action plan to prevent radon risks

National action plan to prevent radon risks

The goal is to prevent radon-induced lung cancer


Radon is the most significant known cause of lung cancer after smoking. Of the approximately 2000 lung cancer deaths reported in Finland each year, radon exposure is estimated to be related to about 300. Radon exposure increases the risk of lung cancer, especially for smokers. Radon causes about 40 lung cancers each year in non-smokers and is thus the most significant known cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Most lung cancers could be avoided by quitting smoking and reducing radon exposure.

This action plan sets long-term goals and means by which the risk of radon-induced lung cancer in Finland can be reduced. The main focus of the action plan is on reducing the radon concentration in indoor air, as radon in breathing air is usually the most significant source of radiation exposure for Finns. Radon gas can enter the indoor air from the soil and bedrock below and around the building, from construction products or from borehole water.

Radon risks can be reduced - the means to achieve this goal

 

Construct radon-safe buildings

A cost-effective way to influence radon exposure is to consider radon in advance as part of the design and construction of new buildings.

According to the Land Use and Building Act, it is the duty of the person undertaking the construction project when designing and constructing the building to ensure that the building does not endanger health, for example due to radiation. According to the Radiation Act, the person undertaking the construction project must ensure that the building is designed and constructed in such a way that the radon concentration in the indoor air is as low as possible. The regulations of the Ministry of the Environment oblige that the building must be designed in such a way that the transfer of radon into the indoor air is avoided and that the radon risks at the construction site must be taken into account in the design and implementation. In practice, one way to influence radon-safe construction is to include radon control in contracts.

Measure radon levels

Radon concentrations can only be determined by measurement. Measuring radon levels is relatively easy and there are reliable methods for this. Radon measurements in homes are usually taken care of by the owner or occupier of the home. According to the Radiation Act, the employer is responsible for radon measurements in workplaces. Tenants may have radon measurements in their dwellings if they wish, but any radon remediation measures that may affect the structures must be agreed with the building owner.

Implement mitigation measures or limit stays if necessary

If measurements have shown that the radon concentration or exposure is higher than the reference value, the radon exposure may be affected by radon-reducing mitigation measures. The reference values are shown below.

Radon mitigation is typically an easy procedure and the cost is usually a few thousand euros. Radon mitigation can be carried out, for example, with a radon vacuum cleaner or a radon well. It may also be possible to schedule or intensify ventilation, or to seal the subfloor of the building. Sometimes, it may be necessary to limit stays in areas where radon levels are very high and they cannot be reduced quickly enough.

It is the responsibility of the owner and occupier of dwellings and other living areas in the building to ensure that the radon content of the indoor air is as low as possible, taking into account the conditions.

In the case of dwellings and other living areas, the obligation to limit and eliminate radon levels is based on the Health Protection Act.

If a radon concentration or exposure higher than the reference value is detected in the workplace building, the employer must limit the exposure of workers under the Radiation Act.

The regulation issued under the Radiation Act sets out the reference values in more detail. A reference value means an exposure or concentration value that it is not appropriate to exceed.

Reference values

  Reference
​​​​​​​values
Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on ionizing radiation 1044/2018
Radon concentration in the design and construction of a new building 200 Bq/m³
Radon levels in existing dwellings and other living areas 300 Bq/m³
Radon concentration in the workplace where the working time is greater than or equal to 600 hours per year (annual average radon concentration during work) 300 Bq/m³
Occupational radon exposure per year in all workplaces 500 000 Bq/h/m³
Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on domestic water quality requirements and control surveys 1352/2015
Quality requirement for the radon content in domestic water 1000 Bq/l

 

Long-term objectives and means

Main objectives Means (supervisory responsibility*) Indicators
The number of lung cancers caused by radon is reduced Radon exposure in homes and other living areas (TESU) and workplaces (STUK) can be reduced. In addition, reducing smoking affects the achievement of the goal (Valvira, STM). The extent of radon exposure of the population and workers and the prevalence of smoking and their development.
Radon exposure decreases

Those undertaking a construction project take radon risks into account in the design and construction solutions of new buildings subject to a permit (building control).

It is essential that those undertaking a construction project are aware of the radon risks and hire designers and a contractor for the project who are radon aware. In addition, it is essential that the building inspectorate monitors in connection with the permitting process that the radon risks have been duly taken into account in the project as part of construction safety, as, for instance, construction safety requires.

The owner/occupier of a building limits radon exposure if radon concentrations above the reference value have been found in dwellings and other living areas (TESU). The employer limits radon exposure at workplaces if radon concentrations above the reference value have been found at the workplace (STUK).

The responsible authority advises and, if necessary, obliges the building’s owner, occupier or the employer to limit radon exposure.
Radon concentrations in new and existing buildings as well as the number and efficiency of radon mitigation measures.
Indoor radon concentrations are better known

Residents of residential buildings or owners or occupiers of buildings take measurements in detached houses and apartments on the lowest floor of apartment buildings throughout the country. TESU and STUK provide more information on the need for measurements in residential buildings by the means mentioned in the section Radon risk awareness.

Employers or other parties responsible for the premises measure radon concentrations in workplaces and other living areas required by the Radiation Act (STUK, occupational health and safety, TESU).

The results of radon measurements are comprehensively obtained in the national radon database (STUK, STM, occupational safety, TESU). The authorities have adequate technical systems and associated viewing and access rights, as well as technical interfaces and statutory rights.

Adequate mutual access and disclosure rights are provided for supervisory authorities, as well as the right to receive information on radon measurements from different operators (STM).

Effectiveness indicators for radon monitoring in construction, housing, other living areas and workplaces.

Number, representativeness and usability of radon measurements stored in the national radon database.
Radon risk awareness improves TESU, Valvira, STUK, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, STM, Building Control and the Association of Finnish Municipalities implement effective and efficient communication and training for various target groups. If necessary, instructions, guides or other material will be prepared to support the achievement of the goal.

Results of radon risk awareness surveys

* Building Control = municipal building control authority, STM = Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, STUK = Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, TESU = municipal health authority, Occupational Safety and Health Administration = occupational safety and health responsibilities, Valvira = National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health

Provisions behind the action plan

This action plan is based on Article 103 of the radiation protection standards directive (2013/59/Euratom), or so-called BSS Directive, which requires Member States to draw up a national action plan to prevent long-term risks from radon. In Finland, this obligation has been implemented by stipulating the obligation for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to draw up a national action plan pursuant to section 159 of the Radiation Act (859/2018). The action plan and its more detailed content are provided in more detail in the Government Decree on Ionizing Radiation (1034/2018, section 54 and Annex 6). The regulation requires the action plan to be updated at least every five years.