You don’t see it, you don’t feel it, but it is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It is radon, a natural radioactive gas present especially in the north of the country where the composition of the soils is different. The first national plan (2017-2020) to reduce radon exposure from the Ministry of Health targeted housing. The second (2021-2028) encountered an emphasis on the workplace.
“We did a radon map and saw that in the south of the country 1% of private homes exceeded the reference level of 300 Bq / m². But when it exceeds, it is only slightly up to 400 or 500. While in the north, between 20 and 30% of houses are shrinking, including 1 or 2% massively ”, explains Patrick Majerus, Head of Division of the Radiation protection.
“It is also advisable to stop smoking …”
“In the workplace, we do not yet have enough perspective to know if the same percentage applies. Probably not, the rate is certainly lower, as many workplaces are in modern buildings. For the same reason, schools and colleges have fewer problems than private homes. In spite of everything, there are many small places of employment, such as doctors’ offices, installed in old private houses ”.
How do you protect yourself from radon? “Measuring the radon level is extremely easy to do,” says Patrick Majerus. We have little detectors that we can send by mail. People put them themselves on the dresser in the bedroom, on the living room table. We do this during the winter when the potential concentration is higher because the rooms are heated. And after three months we send the detector to the lab ”. Note that since 2019, employers located in radon zones have the obligation to take measurements.
Then, “if the radon is low, we improve aeration. If it is significantly high, we put a sump below the house. Stopping smoking is also advised because it is an aggravating risk factor ”. To help the bosses to do the same the ministry released a small guide.
(Séverine Goffin / The essential)
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