Active radon regulation and communication

One of the tasks of the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) is to carry out radon regulation at workplaces. According to a study published by STUK in 2023, approximately 34,000 employees in Finland are exposed to radon levels above the reference values in their workplaces. STUK continued active regulation and communication to correct the situation. 

Radon is an odourless and invisible radioactive gas that can be present in indoor air of buildings. Long-term exposure to high radon levels increases the risk of lung cancer. Smokers in particular are at high risk of becoming ill. Quitting smoking effectively reduces the risk.

The main objective of STUK’s radon regulation is to ensure that employees in Finland are not exposed to too much radon gas in their workplaces. Measurement is the only way to determine the radon level. The employer is responsible for radon safety at the workplace, similarly as it is responsible for other occupational safety issues.  

According to a STUK survey published in August 2023, it is estimated that more than 30,000 employees in Finland are exposed to radon levels above the reference value of 300 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m³). This means that radon in the workplace is the most significant source of occupational radiation exposure in Finland. Therefore, It would be important for employers to carry out statutory radon measurements at workplaces in order to identify and limit exposure. At the end of the year, the radon register maintained by STUK contained data from more than 100,000 radon measurements at approximately 24,000 workplaces. In 2023, radon levels of more than 4,600 workplaces were reported to STUK. Of the ordinary workplaces measured last year, the average annual radon level was higher than the reference value of 300 Bq/m³ in approximately 17% of the workplaces.

Remote working from home has increased in Finland in recent years. This may lead to even higher radon exposure during working hours, as radon levels in homes are on average higher than at workplaces. According to STUK’s estimate, the majority — about three quarters — of Finns’ radiation dose is due to radon in the indoor air of homes. The municipal health authority is responsible for radon monitoring of apartments and other occupied spaces.

Radon communications

STUK’s central communications objective is to build trust among the stakeholders and strengthen the Finns’ sense of security. STUK has produced versatile radon communications for employers and members of public for a long time. Since STUK’s task in terms of radon is to focus on radon regulation at workplaces, we will develop a new concept for radon communications which outlines how, when and why STUK communicates about radon and the associated measurement obligation to workplaces in 2023 . In autumn 2023, the radon concept focused on the production of new communications materials and activation in media communications. 

The radon awareness of employers and population was increased by, for example, releases, newsletters, social media publications and radon-related events. STUK arranged a day-long radon mitigation course for all interested parties in autumn 2023. In addition, STUK’s radon experts held radon lectures at several events for professionals and students in the construction, housing and health sectors. The purpose of the lectures was to provide information about radon, its occurrence and radon mitigation.

Communications work will continue this year with stakeholder collaboration and direct contacts with workplaces.

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