Cancer gas warning for hundreds of homes

EFFORTS are being made today to help residents worried they could be living in homes suffering from dangerous levels of the cancer-causing gas radon.Hundreds of homes are believed to be affected by the problem in a 225 square kilometre area, which includes Old Felixstowe, Woodbridge, Martlesham Heath, Newbourne and Hollesley.

EFFORTS are being made today to help residents worried they could be living in homes suffering from dangerous levels of the cancer-causing gas radon.

Hundreds of homes are believed to be affected by the problem in a 225 square kilometre area, which includes Old Felixstowe, Woodbridge, Martlesham Heath, Newbourne and Hollesley.

But Suffolk Coastal environmental health officials are trying to remove some of the doubts and concerns about the carcinogenic gas, which has no taste or smell, but damages the lung tissue if inhaled and can cause cancer.

They are also offering advice to householders about how they can have homes checked and action that can be taken if high-levels are found.


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Chris Slemmings, cabinet member for the environment, said maps showing the affected area, a link to a national radon website, information sheet plus a link to labs which carry out radon monitoring had been put on the council's web site.

"There is a small area in the south of our district that has been identified as radon-affected in a recent national research document, and a radon protection area, where radon protection measures are required in new buildings," he said.

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"Radon can be an emotive subject. The reality is that it is a naturally produced gas that can be controlled by a number of measures.

"We hope the information on our website will help increase knowledge and understanding about radon."

The National Radiological Protection Board tested nearly 250 homes in the area and in only a small number has found high readings.

It is estimated the probability of a house in the area having a high reading of radon to be one per cent compared with the 30pc risk found in badly- affected areas such as Devon and Cornwall.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas which is a product of the radioactive decay of uranium found in small materials such as rock, soil, brick and concrete.

Levels vary from season to season, day to day and even from hour to hour as windows and doors are opened and closed.

The level can also vary widely between identical houses and the only way to find out whether there is a high level in a particular house is to measure it. Monitoring is undertaken by having a detector over a three-month period.

The gas can be reduced by installing a small underfloor sump or a power fan. New buildings in the area are fitted with an airtight membrane across the floor and through the walls.

Over-exposure to the gas can cause lung cancer. It is blamed for about 2,500 of the 40,000 lung cancer deaths a year.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk/envhealth/radon/html

n Have you carried out work to your home to protect it from radon? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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