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New Act provides better protection against radon

For the first time, the protection against the natural and radioactive rare gas radon has been regulated by law. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), which has been providing information about health risks due to radon for many years and has been promoted a better legal protection of citizens, expressly welcomes this fundamental advance.

Protection against radon for the first time regulated by law

Previously, the protection against radon was mainly left to the discretion of house owners. The Act, which was adopted by the German Bundesrat on 12 May 2017, provides for the first time a legal foundation for binding rules for the protection of citizens, in particular in public buildings such as kindergartens or schools.

Radon is a natural, radioactive rare gas occurring everywhere in Germany. Depending on the subsurface environment, the amount of occurring radon varies. In the open air, the gas dilutes very quickly and thus hardly poses a risk. However, if it accumulates in indoor air, the risk of developing lung cancer increases. In this case, building remediation measures ought to be taken.

Paths into the building Paths into the buildingRadon paths from the ground into buildings

Based on studies, the BfS has recommended that the value of 100 becquerel per cubic metre for the radon activity concentration in indoor air not be exceeded, as far as this is possible. According to current knowledge, this provides the best possible protection.

Act fulfils requirements of European Directive

In a legislative procedure, however, several concerns and interests reconciled, for example that a sense of proportion is retained regarding effective protection and measures demanded. The value of 300 becquerel per cubic metre that has now been established by law is to take into account this aspect. At the same time it fulfils the requirements of the European Directive 2013/59/Euratom.

At the present moment, there is little practical experience available in nationwide radon remediation and the concentration levels that can be achieved by this. The new Radiation Protection Act thus provides for reviewing the effectiveness of the measures at the latest after 10 years. The BfS expressly welcomes this, too.

State of 2017.05.31

© Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz