ASN aims to reduce radon activity concentration in homes

Published on 26/04/2010 • 04:25 pm

Information notice

ASN has just published and submitted to the French Government its report on the 2005-2008 action plan on radon-related risks (Radon Action Plan [1]). A second plan, currently being prepared, will focus primarily on reducing radon activity concentration in homes.

The first Radon Action Plan looked at three priority areas of activity:

1- Contributing to and monitoring the application of regulations concerning radon risk management in workplaces and public buildings;

2- Improving and disseminating knowledge of radon-related risks;

3- Building a new policy for radon risk management in homes and new buildings.

Specific actions were defined in each of these areas.

The first plan defined 27 such specific actions, 24 of which have now been completed [2] and appear in the report, which highlights the following points:

1/ According to regulations, the owners of public buildings are responsible for measuring radon activity concentration on their property. These regulations are now in full force. Measurements carried out by ASN-approved organisations show that activity concentrations are below 400 Bq.m-3 for 85% of the 7,356 buildings inspected. For the remaining 15%, steps must be taken, or work carried out, to reduce human exposure to radon.

2/ Regarding workplaces, regulations stipulating that employers are responsible for taking measurements at sites where workers are liable to be exposed to radon and its decay products were set up in 2009. These regulations came into full force at the beginning of 2010, with ASN's approval of organisations responsible for taking underground measurements.

 

3/ For individual homes, the action plan was limited to a feasibility study on the possibility of incorporating radon measurements in the health documentation demanded for housing property transactions. The action carried out as part of the experimental programme in the Limousin region should soon provide some helpful data for defining a national housing policy in this respect.

4/ With regard to new buildings, ASN and the DHUP have provided funding for CSTB to prepare construction rules applicable to new buildings. The new rules should soon lead to the introduction of radon prevention regulations in the building code.

IRSN is preparing a new map showing local at-risk areas. The eagerly awaited new map will replace the one shown below.

This report is part of the preparation of a second Radon Action Plan for the period 2010-2013, itself forming part of France's second national health and environment plan (PNSE2), published on 26 June 2009. The prime objective of this plan, drafted jointly by ASN, the Ministries of Health, Housing and Labour, as well as partner organisations, shall be to reduce exposure in existing housing and introduce new construction rules in new buildings in order to guarantee low levels of exposure for occupants.

For further details:

- Read the report on the 2005-2008 action plan on radon-related risks

- Consult the map showing the principal at-risk areas concerning radon exposure

- Consult ASN decision no. 2008-DC-0110 issued on 26 September 2008 on radon-related risks in the workplace.

- Consult public information sheet no. 7 entitled Radon.

Radon is a naturally occurring, short-lived radioactive gas (it has a half-life of 3.8 days). It is found mostly in granitic and volcanic subsoil, as well as some building materials. It can concentrate in enclosed, poorly ventilated areas. In the long term, radon and its decay products can expose residents and workers to the risk of lung cancer. In most cases, radon concentration can be reduced in homes by taking simple precautions, such as airing rooms daily.

The results of the first epidemiological studies in the world conducted on mine workers led the government to define special regulations for public buildings and workplaces in the most highly exposed areas of the country. The owners of the buildings and sites concerned must measure radon concentration and, where necessary, take steps to reduce the exposure of residents and workers.

ASN is involved in updating regulations on radon risk management and coordinates efforts to ensure that they are properly applied.

[1] This action plan, prepared by ASN in 2005 in collaboration with the French Directorate for Housing and Town and Country Planning (DHUP), the French National Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), the French National Institute for Health Surveillance (InVS) and the Scientific and Technical Centre for Building (CSTB), was part of the first national “health and environment” plan, known as PNSE 1, published by the French Government in June 2004, and referred to in the report attached to the Act of 9 August 2004 on public health policy.

[2] The three actions currently in progress (programme on housing in Limousin, map of local at-risk areas and database) will be completed in 2010.

Date of last update : 08/06/2017