Measuring radon concentrations in workplaces and public buildings with the AlphaGUARD

4th June 2024

Bertin’s radon monitor is being used to improve indoor air quality and comply with IRR17 and other regulations

Radon is the largest source of background radiation in the UK and, more concerningly, the second biggest cause of lung cancer with over a thousand deaths per year. As stipulated by HSE, “all employers must review the potential radon hazard in their premises”. In the UK, employees must be compliant with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which includes radon assessments, with the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17) coming into effect in areas where radon is present above 300 Bq/m3 as an annual average.

The cost of inaction

Failure to comply can have serious consequences, both to people’s health and to organizations through financial and legal ramifications. In 2023, a private boarding school in Bath was fined after staff and pupils were exposed to levels of radon at eight times the legal limit, following the school’s failure to monitor the radioactive gas.

Bertin Instrument’s AlphaGUARD radon monitor is already being used to safeguard workers in areas where higher concentrations of radon are present. The instrument’s fast response time provides accurate information on the effect of various factors, such as changes in ventilation, outdoor temperature, and wind direction, allowing the exposure time of workers to be estimated if necessary. An excellent feature of the AlphaGuard DF2000 is its ability to distinguish between radon and thoron concentrations, allowing a better assessment of the effect of soil concentration on indoor concentration.

Protecting limestone miners

In the UK, the Bath Stone Group uses the radon monitor to deliver accurate real-time readings of the radioactive in their Stoke Hill Mine. The mine had struggled to effectively monitor radon for many years by relying on third-party contractors. It wasn’t until Public Health England (now superseded by UKHSA) visited with their own AlphaGUARD that Mine Manager and Radiation Protection Supervisor Matthew Hawker understood the challenges facing the mine.

Matthew said, “When I had to hand the AlphaGUARD back to PHE, the first thing I wanted to do was get my own, which is why I got in touch with Southern Scientific. The service that we’ve had is so helpful and so comprehensive. I recommend it wherever I possibly can, and I genuinely mean it because without the AlphaGUARD we would not be able to effectively manage a safe working environment. It’s robust, it’s simple. I’ve never had an issue but whenever I’ve had a question, the team at Southern Scientific has been on it so quickly.

“We’ve been so impressed with the AlphaGUARD that we’ve just ordered the smaller portable AlphaE for personal radon monitoring.”

Miners of the Bath Stone Group in the Stoke Hill Mine, southeast of Bath.

Quantifying radon leak points in public buildings

Improved European regulation has driven respective national legislations to mitigate the dangers of radon. In Finland, the construction company Vahanen International Oy has used the AlphaGUARD to measure indoor air quality and quantify radon entry points in public buildings. The instrument itself was approved and calibrated by the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK). This allowed leak points to be marked on a floor plan and subsequently sealed for occupant safety.

Find out more

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