Exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer worldwide behind smoking. Changing the energy characteristics of a dwelling can influence both its thermal and ventilative properties, which can affect indoor air quality. This study uses radon measurements made in 470 689 UK homes between 1980 and 2015, linked to dwelling information contained within the Home Energy Efficiency Database (HEED). The linked dataset, the largest of its kind, was used to analyze the association of housing and energy performance characteristics with indoor radon concentrations in the UK. The findings show that energy efficiency measures that increase the airtightness of properties are observed to have an adverse association with indoor radon levels. Homes with double glazing installed had radon measurements with a significantly higher geometric mean, 67% (95% CI: 44, 89) greater than those without a recorded fabric retrofit. Those with loft insulation (47%, 95% CI: 26, 69) and wall insulation (32%, 95% CI: 11, 53) were also found to have higher radon readings. Improving the energy performance of the UK’s housing stock is vital in meeting carbon emission reduction targets. However, compromising indoor air quality must be avoided through careful assessment and implementation practices.
Symonds, P., Rees, D., Daraktchieva, Z., McColl, N., Bradley, J., Hamilton, I. and Davies, M. 2019. Home energy efficiency and radon: An observational study. Indoor Air, 2019 (29): 854–864. doi: 10.1111/ ina.12575
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