The cost effectiveness of radon reduction programmes in domestic housing in England and Wales: The impact of improved radon mapping and housing trends

A.R Denman, John Mitchell Sinclair, P.S. Phillips, R.G.M. Crockett, C.J. Groves-Kirkby

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


In the UK, excessive levels of radon gas have been detected in domestic housing. Areas where 1% of existing homes were found to be over the Action Level of 200 Bq · m− 3 were declared to be Radon Affected Areas. Building Regulations have been introduced which require that, for areas where between 3% and 10% of existing houses are above the Action Level, new homes should be built with basic radon protection using a membrane, and that, where 10% or more of existing homes exceed this level, new homes should be built with full radon protection.

Initially these affected areas followed administrative boundaries, known as Counties. However, with increasing numbers of measurements of radon levels in domestic homes recorded in the national database, these areas have been successively refined into smaller units – 5 km grid squares in 1999, down to 1 km grid squares in 2007.

One result is the identification of small areas with raised radon levels within regions where previously no problem had been identified. In addition, some parts of areas that were previously considered radon affected are now considered low, or no, risk. Our analysis suggests that the net result of improved mapping is to increase the number of affected houses. Further, the process is more complex for local builders, and inspectors, who need to work out whether radon protection in new homes is appropriate.

Our group has assessed the cost-effectiveness of radon remediation programmes, and has applied this analysis to consider the cost-effectiveness of providing radon protection in both new and existing homes. This includes modelling the potential failure rate of membranes, and whether testing radon levels in new homes is appropriate. The analysis concludes that it is more cost effective to provide targeted radon protection in high radon areas, although this introduces more complexity.

The paper also considers the trend in housing to a greater proportion of apartments, the regional variations in types of housing and the decreasing average number of occupants in each dwelling, and concludes that data and methods are now available to respond to the health risks of radon at a local level, in keeping with a general initiative to prioritise responses to health and social welfare issues at a more local level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-85
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


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