Builders act as radon said to kill 800 every year

30th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

30 January 2004, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch construction industry has called for new guidelines on the radioactive gas radon found in new homes. It is estimated that the release of radon from some building materials causes 800 cancer deaths in the Netherlands annually.

30 January 2004

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch construction industry has called for new guidelines on the radioactive gas radon found in new homes. It is estimated that the release of radon from some building materials causes 800 cancer deaths in the Netherlands annually.

The concentration of radon in newly-built homes has risen by 50 percent since 1970, news agency Novum reported. Radon, which occurs naturally, can also be present in the kiezelbeton, or pebble concrete, popular in the Netherlands.

Construction industry sources said on Friday that they are in talks with State Secretary Peter van Geel of the Environment Ministry on measures to ensure that radon levels do not continue to increase. Van Geel has warned he will impose mandatory regulations if the industry does not adhere to voluntary agreements.

Radon is carcinogenic, but inhaling it directly is not usually harmful because it is quickly exhaled again, newspaper De Telegraaf said on Friday. But problems arise when dust particles of radon-contaminated concrete are inhaled and remain in the lungs.

The Dutch Health Council, Gezondsheidraad, estimates that radon is responsible for 800 lung cancer deaths annually. This makes radon, after smoking, the second biggest cause of cancer fatalities.

Minister van Geel has said residents of new homes should not panic, but needed all the information on the subject.

He has drawn up a discussion document that deals with the risks posed by radon, high-tension power lines and mobile phone base stations. Research by the health council points to a link between living near high-tension power lines and leukaemia in children.

Noting another recent study that claimed new homes are increasingly being built near such power lines, Van Geel said children's exposure to the magnetic fields created by power lines has to be minimised.

The radiation fields generated by mobile phone base stations in the Netherlands were lower than required by international agreements, Van Geel said.

Yet, studies into the effects of long-term exposure to the radiation from base stations were essential, he added. 

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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