Wednesday, 21 April 2010

RADON kills while Jersey sleeps.

Never mind the volcanic ash that might blow this way or the particles from the new incinerator that might get up your nose.
The certain fact is that RADON gas has been bubbling up through the very ground of Jersey for thousands of years and every year it kills people with very unpleasant cancers.

Should you worry? Should your government be more concerned? What can we do?

Radon gas occurs in a few areas of the UK and it is guessed that from 2,500 to 5,000 people may die from its effects there each year. Presumably, many thousands of others are treated and survive or are not diagnosed at all.

Does anybody have any data for Jersey? Who is at risk?

The matter was recently raised with the Environment Scrutiny Panel aka your elected representatives Deputies Phil Rondel, Paul Le Claire and Daniel Wimberley and Constable John Refault. They discussed the issues on 1st April 2010 but they were not very excited by the questions posed and don’t propose to do much about it.

As usual for Scrutiny they have passed the matter on for somebody else to look at and comment upon. Mostly of course, this will be the very same civil servants that have dreamed-up and implement existing Radon policies in Jersey.

In fact, under-floor Radon barriers have to be installed in any new homes built in Jersey (the whole island is a Radon danger zone) or when substantial alterations are made to existing ones - but not to any other classes of buildings like hospitals, schools, hotels, offices, residential care- homes.
Presumably Radon gas knows how to avoid such classes of buildings ….?

The dangerous radio-active gas also gets into water courses and is released into the lungs when affected water is atomised in showers and other like processes in laundries etc.

In Jersey there has been some ancient monitoring using simple stick-on patches which give readings over a few months – but nothing very comprehensive or recent. New “Dwelling Health and Safety Law” legislation now being considered might include some extra measures but it is not yet certain.
Apparently the international safety level is likely to be reduced soon (made more stringent) but nobody in Jersey seems to have any data on the numbers who might have died or been affected in the past 10 years or are likely to become ill in the near future.

Road kill and injury statistics are obviously not treated in such a casual way and the dangers of traffic or other safety hazards at work or play are also dealt with in a much more positive way. Why so?

If St John and St Mary Parishes are Radon hot spots then the residents of those places should be told.
Deputies Rondel and Wimberley and their colleagues don’t seem too concerned about it but presumably if they knew of constituents who had developed a nasty Radon related cancer then they might be a bit more motivated?

Perhaps as a start, each Parish in Jersey should undertake to carry out monitoring tests on their own Parish hall, a school and a trio of old houses so that the general public can see and be alerted or comforted as appropriate.

Radon gas can build up in poorly ventilated buildings of all types. It is not just a matter of concern in housing accommodation. In UK Radon zones (like Cornwall) houses can only be sold if they have a certificate of Radon safety or a security bond is imposed so that the new owner can afford to carry out tests and any necessary works to make the property safe.

The implication might be that Jersey lawyers and estate agents are transacting house sales and failing to disclose a possible Radon health risk since the whole island is a known Radon zone!
One way or another, the continuing failure to address the Radon problem in Jersey could prove very costly.
See you in court or hospital?
What does your elected representative know about it? What do YOU think should be done?

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some years ago when testing for Radon Gas one area of Somerset were advised that the levels were very dangerous and residents in one town were advised that growing their own vegetables could be dangerous and should not be consumed. This area is well known for it's granite. There are available maps in the UK relating to the risk of Radon. There are links between Radon and cancer and other illness especially lung disease.

I am not too sure if the famous Jersey Potatoes are grown in Radon areas on your Island but it really is worth finding out if your home is safe from these gasses. There are testers available on the market which you can place in your home. I believe I once read that homes with concrete lower floors were safer than floorboards. It really is worth testing one of my neighbours was requested to do a Radon test before as mortgage company would release funds, it came back negative fortunately. Hope this is of some help. As you know Radon is mainly found in granite and emits it's poisons. I remember visiting a friend who had moved to Cornwall. It was an eerie place on the moors situated on the pennisula near Lands End - she was fit and healthy before she moved, now she is really quite ill, maybe the radon maybe not but I really think that people should test their homes for Radon and if found take advise on how to minimise the effects of this deadly gas.