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This page provides information about radon; how it may affect areas in our county and assistance on how to carry out a radon measurement.


Radon is a natural radioactive gas that enters houses from the ground underneath, where it is formed from uranium which is found in all rocks and soils. Indoor radon levels depend on the concentration of radon in the ground, details of construction of the house, and the way the house is heated and ventilated. Levels can vary widely between apparently identical houses; the only way to find out whether there is a high level of radon gas in a particular house is to measure it.

Long term exposure to high levels of the gas has been found to cause lung cancer, especially by those people who smoke where radon is found to be more prevalent. In fact, it is the second major cause of lung cancer, second only to smoking.

Radon affected areas in County Durham

Radon affected areas are parts of the country where 1% or more of properties are estimated to be above the UK radon action level of 200 becquerels per cubic metre of air.  The Health Protection Agency (HPA) declares radon affected areas and publishes maps of them on behalf of the Government. 

A Radon Atlas of England and Wales shows the areas which are most affected. The map supersedes the Radon Map of 2002. The new map is more detailed (now 1km square grids and not 5km square grids) and is based on more data - over half a million radon measurements covering the whole of the UK.

How do I get radon levels measured?

The UK Radon website and its indicative atlas can tell you the estimated probability that a particular property is above the Action Level for radon, but the only way to find out whether it is in fact above or below the Action Level is to carry out a radon measurement.

Environmental information

The Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) are legally enforceable regulations that govern the public's right to access environmental information held by public authorities including local authorities. Environmental information covered by the regulations includes the state of the air, atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscape, as well as factors affecting the above elements such as substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste, emissions, discharges into the environment.

Further information

The Environment Agency maintains a Public Register of sites licensed to keep radioactive substances.

Nuclear sites and other industries can create radioactive waste as a result of their routine operations. Some of the wastes are released into the air or discharged to water; the radioactivity can enter the environment and access the food chain. The releases and discharges are controlled by authorisations issued by the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency (EA) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) separately monitor levels of radioactivity in the environment and food chain. This monitoring enables the EA and FSA to ensure that radiation exposure from food and the environment are within the legal limits.

Contact us
Environment, Health and Consumer Protection
03000 261 016
Our address is:
  • Durham County Council
  • Environment, Health and Consumer Protect
  • PO Box 617
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 9HZ