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Canon Business Center Conducts Reliable and Effective Radon Measurement in the Workplace

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In order to comply with the EU’s new Radiation Protection Directive, a new Radiation Protection Act came into force in 2018. This means that for the first time, the issue of exposure and measurement of radon in both workplaces and homes is included in different European countries Radiation Protection Acts.

We met Canon’s sales manager Mats Sonesson at their Uppsala office in Sweden. Here, Mats tells us what they did to comply with the new law to ensure employees were working in a radon-safe environment.

How did you approach the issue of carrying out radon measurement in your office?
We wanted to know that the office we rent is okay and that our employees are not exposed to radon levels which are above national guidelines. As an employer, we are legally responsible to ensure our employees are not exposed to any health risks in the workplace. Understanding and controlling radon levels is a key element of that.

What was your experience of conducting an accredited radon measurement?
It was surprisingly easy. The first few days our employees wondered what the radon detectors were for, but after that they just blended into the office to the extent that we almost forgot to send them back for analysis! Registering information on Radonova’s website was straightforward and we received clear instructions on where the detectors should be placed. We fixed the detectors with zip-ties to make sure they weren’t damaged when our office was cleaned.

Have you been able to use the radon measurement you conducted in terms of your wider environmental responsibilities?
Yes, we are sending the report from the radon survey to our central office as it is something that illustrates how we are reducing our environmental impact and meeting environmental legal requirements in line with ISO 14001.

Why did you choose Radonova as your supplier?
As we are accredited according to ISO 14001, it was sensible to order the radon measurement from Radonova as the company is accredited according to ISO 17025, 14001 and 9001. Radonova’s website assures quality at a cost-effective price and in general the site is easy to navigate and order from.

Finally, do you have any advice to employers who have not yet measured radon in their workplace?
Considering how easy it is, and the fact that the law now requires measurement, the question is really why shouldn’t you do it? The measurement process is so straightforward. If the measurement would have indicated that a workplace has radon levels which are above legal levels, a significant health risk would have been identified. In that respect, it is comforting to be aware that any radon issue is being addressed and managed. In our case, the measured radon content was below the reference level.

Canon Business Center Conducts Reliable and Effective Radon Measurement in the Workplace

How many radon detectors are needed to measure a workplace?

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Since the EU’s new radiation protection directive (2013/59/Euratom) came into force in 2018, it is mandatory that employers should be aware of radon levels in the workplace. The new directive has entailed new national laws in member states, which has resulted in an increasing number of workplaces measuring radon levels. However, at the same time, there is a lack of knowledge about how a safe and reliable radon measurement should be conducted.

As the world’s leading radon laboratory, Radonova Laboratories has produced a “how to guide” that can help employers carry out radon measurements correctly.

First get an overview – long term measurement by an accredited laboratory

If you have never measured radon before, you should start first with a preliminary measurement by an accredited laboratory. These measurements should be carried out over a three-month period in order to obtain an annual average of the radon level. Note, this initial measurement must be performed during specific measurement seasons in some countries.

The main cost is not radon detectors – make sure you get it right from the start

When ordering a radon measurement, a common question is how many radon doses are needed. Unfortunately, many countries do not have an official methodology detailing how a measurement at a workplace should be carried out. And if there is, they are usually very difficult to interpret for most employers. Therefore, it can be hard to estimate the number of radon doses required. For this reason, we recommend that employers who measure radon levels use the international methodology recommended by The International Radon Measurement Association (IRMA). Yes, it will result in more measuring points than is suggested by a national organisation, but by following IRMA guidelines you do not risk missing certain areas of the workplace, which can result in time-consuming remeasuring.

The main cost of workplace radon measurement is in the deployment and collection of detectors and the investment in radon consultants if remeasurements are required. In the event of elevated radon levels, the commissioned radon consultant will be in a position to work more efficiently if more points have been measured at the outset. So, by following IRMA guidelines, you will have access to relevant documentation which enables you to conduct measurements which are appropriate for your business.

Rules for calculating the number of radon detectors.

The guidelines in IRMA’s method description for calculating the number of radon doses required are straightforward. By following them, you will also meet national criteria for measuring radon in workplaces.

Here’s how to calculate the number of radon detectors based on IRMA’s guidelines:

• Radon detectors should be placed in rooms where employees spend more than 4 hours per day and in basements where staff stay more than 50 hours a year

• For larger rooms and premises in the ground floor or basement, a radon detector per 150 m² should be placed

• For larger rooms and premises on other floors, a radon detector per 250 m² should be placed

• Use at least two radon detectors per building and floor

• Always measure in rooms where you and your colleagues spend the most time

If you have additional questions about the required number of radon doses and how to conduct a radon measurement, why not contact Radonova’s specialists.

Finland ahead of the rest of Europe

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-Radon measurement in the workplace is commonplace 

It’s not just in school education that Finland is ahead of the rest of Europe. When it comes to measuring radon in workplaces, they are a step ahead there too. Measuring radon in Finnish workplaces has been commonplace for a number of years for Radonova’s partner Suomen radonhallinta.  

Even before the new Radiation Protection Act was introduced on 1 June this year, the Swedish Work Environment Authority imposed the requirement that the hygienic limit value for radon (0.36 MBqh/m3) must not be exceeded in Swedish workplaces. And yet there were only around 3,000 instances of workplace measurement in Sweden during 2017, compared with around 70,000 instances of measurement in homes. In the rest of Europe also there is less workplace measurement compared with measurement in homes.

“It is hard to say exactly how much workplace measurement we have performed, but it is well into the thousands. Then of course there are several other operators also measuring radon in workplaces. In Finland there are around 60 high-risk areas where employers are obliged to measure radon in the workplace. Considering that radon is reckoned to cause lung cancer in 300 to 400 Finns every year, there is of course every reason to comply with the existing regulations,” comments Jarkko Ruokonen at Suomen radonhallinta.

Common cause of lung cancer

“Although we are seeing increased demand for workplace measurement this year, it is clear that a lot of workplaces will not manage to comply with the new legal requirements. Here it seems as if Finland has been quick to take the radon issue seriously. Just as in the rest of Europe, radon is, after smoking, the single biggest cause of lung cancer in the population. If we are to bring the figures down, greater efforts are required, as is cooperation between employers, public authorities and private operators,” comments Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories.

“If you haven’t already taken radon measurements at your workplace then it is high time you did so. Quite apart from the fact that as an employer you are risking exposing your employees to a serious health hazard, there can be serious repercussions for employers who do not comply with the law. Here I absolutely think that the rest of Europe should be aiming to take the radon issue at least as seriously as Finland does,” concludes Karl Nilsson.

Finland

Jarkko Ruokonen at Suomen radonhallinta measures radon at a workplace in Finland. “Our cooperation with Radonova is going really well. They have a modern lab that is certified in accordance with ISO17025, reliable products and excellent customer service.”

Johan Olsson leads Radonova’s work to measure radon in workplaces

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workplaces

“It’s time the new Radiation Protection Act for workplaces was taken seriously”

Sweden’s new Radiation Protection Act came into force on 1 June 2018. Now the country’s employers have to be aware of the radon levels in our workplaces. Employers also have to take action that may reasonably be required to tackle radon levels over the hygienic limit value of 200 Bq/m³.

Johan Olsson of Radonova Laboratories is a specialist in workplace monitoring. He describes his view of efforts to monitor radon in the workplace.

What are your impressions since the law came in?

Unfortunately, knowledge of radon is generally low. I’d also say that a great many of Sweden’s employers are unaware what the new law means. Essentially, it’s about a health issue and about employees not being exposed to radon levels above the hygienic limit value. After almost half a year, you might think it’s time to take the law seriously.

Another observation is that when companies contact us and we describe how radon is monitored, the response is often, “That’s simple, we should have done this earlier.”

Monitoring radon properly from the offset gives both the employer and employees the peace of mind of knowing what the radon levels are at work. If you carry out proper monitoring and it turns out that the limit value is being exceeded, it’s simpler and less costly to take the right action.

How do we monitor radon in workplaces and what should we be considering?

Basically, it’s easy to monitor radon. You order radon detectors, deploy them, record data, collect the detectors and send them to the radon laboratory, which will return a report by e-mail or online. However, there are several aspects to consider, such as how many radon detectors are needed for reliable monitoring? Another question is how can the work be done as efficiently as possible? The biggest cost of radon monitoring is the time it takes to deploy the detectors, record the data and then retrieve them again. This is vital for ensuring efficiency and safety in all stages of the process.

Real estate companies that carry out monitoring in, say, shopping malls, are one example of an efficient approach. It’s an added value for the tenants if radon monitoring takes place in each store without the tenants having to carry out their own monitoring. If the real estate company carries out the monitoring with, say Radonova, they have full control and avoid a situation arising later on where individual premises have elevated radon levels.

How many radon detectors are needed to monitor radon in the workplace?

For radon monitoring in the workplace, we recommend following the guidelines from IRMA (the International Radon Measurement Association). You will then meet your national requirements as well. The advantage of IRMA’s guidelines is that their recommended measurement procedure helps to save time.

Are there any common misconceptions about monitoring in the workplace?

One common misconception is that it’s sufficient to carry out monitoring in one in every five rooms or use one detector per 500 m³ in large premises. The information can be found in the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s method descriptio. But it also says that monitoring should be carried out where there are suspected high radon levels. Also in rooms that have or are adjacent to pipework, which can increase the risk of high radon levels. In principle, this means that monitoring should take place in all rooms where employees spend more than four hours a week.

Radonova is a world leader in radon monitoring. Describe why you’ll be a leader in this market, too…

We offer safe, accredited monitoring methods and our products can be used in public environments. We also offer the fastest delivery and shortest analysis times on the market. Radonova has invested heavily in user-friendliness where companies that carry out radon monitoring simply record data about deployment and the monitoring dates. The results of the analysis are also easily accessible via our web application. All of the stages of our process are efficient and safe. Also the work and time taken to carry out monitoring is minimised.

 

Read more about radon monitoring in the workplace here»
https://radonova.co.uk/workplaces-and-premises/

For further information on radon monitoring in the workplace, please contact Johan Olsson, phone: +46 (0)18-56 88 00, e-mail: johan.olsson@radonova.com

Radon can be a health risk in ordinary workplaces

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Workplace radon is a so-called “inert” gas that emits ionising radiation, which means that radon is radioactive. Therefore it is also a potent risk. Ionising radiation can cause damage to cells, which in turn leads to illnesses such as cancer. Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer that can be caused by radon.
Radon gas is an element that can come directly from the ground because radon is created when uranium decays. It therefore exists naturally, which can affect properties that have basements with poor insulation. Or that are otherwise in direct contact with the ground.

How do you know if radon is a health risk in the workplace?

It is easy to measure radon levels in the workplace to see whether the value exceeds the limit above which radon is estimated to be a health risk. If the radon level is above 400 Bq/m³, it could mean that spending too much time in the property entails a direct health risk.

Measuring radon levels is simple and straightforward using radon boxes placed in rooms in which people spend the most time. In the case of homes, they are normally placed in bedrooms and living rooms. In the case of a workplace, it is a question of finding similar places in which people spend a lot of time.

There are two different kinds of radon boxes available: those offering long-term measurement or those offering short-term measurement. Long-term measurement must be carried out during the winter months and needs to last for two to three months to provide the most complete results possible for radon levels in the property. A so-called “annual average value” for the radon levels can be obtained from long-term measurement. There are also boxes that are used to carry out short-term measurements. A measurement with these boxes only takes around 10 twenty-four hour periods. Short-term boxes can be used at any time of year. Nevertheless, the results they give are not as accurate as long-term measurements.

What do you do about high radon levels?

There are a couple of different ways of dealing with high radon levels. One of the most common ways is to simply increase the ventilation to reduce the concentration of radon in the air.

risk

Guide to radon monitoring in the workplace

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workplace

Under the EU Radiation Protection Directive, 2013/59/Euratom, which entered into force in February 2018, employers must determine the radon concentrations in the workplace and take appropriate measures to address radon levels above the national limit for radon. With the introduction of the new Directive, questions often arise as to how radon monitoring in the workplace should be handled.

How do we measure radon in workplaces and what should we be considering?

It is basically easy to measure radon. You order radon detectors, deploy them, record data, collect the detectors and send them to the radon laboratory, which will return a report by e-mail or online. However, there are several aspects to consider, such as how many radon detectors are needed for a reliable measurement. Another question is how the work can be done as efficiently as possible. As the biggest cost of radon measurement is the time it takes to deploy the detectors, record the data, and then retrieve them again, it is vital to ensure efficiency and safety at all stages of the process.

Requirements for radon monitoring in a workplace

To make efficient use of time and arrive at a correct measurement, the person monitoring a workplace should make the following demands of the laboratory where the radon detectors were bought. This applies whether you do the job yourself or use an external consultant. Measurements should be taken with radon detectors from an accredited radon laboratory.

Ensure that:

– the laboratory is accredited according to ISO 17025 for measuring radon in indoor air
– the delivery time for detectors is within 2-3 days of ordering
– the delivery time for electronic analysis reports is within one (1) week of the detectors reaching the laboratory
– the laboratory has a web application which allows measurement details to be entered and results to be downloaded, and

  • measurements to be filtered on e.g. address, property name, order code etc.
  • consolidated reports to be downloaded in PDF format
  • can be used on a tablet or other mobile device in the field.

It is also important to make the radon measurements known to your own staff. Information material on radon and the planned measurements should therefore be distributed before monitoring starts. It is also important to inform the cleaning staff if the service is outsourced. The radon detectors need to be placed securely so they cannot be moved or otherwise interfered with during monitoring (cable ties could be used).

How many radon detectors are needed to monitor radon in the workplace?

For radon measurement in the workplace, Radonova recommends following guidelines from IRMA (the International Radon Measurement Association). You will then meet your national requirements as well. The advantage of IRMA’s guidelines is that their recommended measurement procedure helps to save time.

The following locations must be included when measuring radon:

– Rooms and locations regularly used for more than four hours per day
– All underground/basement locations or other locations used by anyone for more than 50 hours per year where there is a risk of radon leakage
– Any relevant locations/rooms at basement and ground floor level. In larger spaces, deploy at least one detector per 150 m2.
– On higher floors: At least two detectors, and at least one per 250 m2.

What happens if you are over the reference value?

If it turns out that you are over the reference value, you should start by measuring the radon concentration during working hours (a shorter period). You could do this with Radonova’s Duotrak radon detector, for example. Note: Because work premises are usually ventilated more during working hours, the radon level could be lower at this time.

If the workplace is still over the reference value, you must take steps to reduce the radon level. This is normally done by controlling the ventilation. In these cases, however, we recommend contacting a radon consultant who can investigate where the radon is coming from and suggest appropriate action.