Do you live in Morlaix, have you had a CT scan during the month, traveled by plane and eaten shellfish? Your exposure to radioactivity may be more than you think. The Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) offers a “Radon & Radioactivity” application on Android and iOS to estimate exposure from a questionnaire. Although a little complicated to understand with its technical terms, the tool offers a good approximation according to the answers, without causing anxiety.
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In addition to medical examinations, the benefit of which is much greater than the risks incurred, the French can be subjected to ionizing radiation during air travel (with altitude, exposure to cosmic radiation increases), through their diet (fruits containing polonium 210) or simply in their homes. IRSN calls on the risk associated with radon, a colorless and odorless radioactive gas found particularly in granite regions, such as Brittany or the Massif Central.
Radon, an effect as harmful as passive smoking
“Radon comes from the decay of radium and uranium, present in greater concentration in granite rocks, begins Géraldine Ielsch, head of the radon research and expertise office at IRSN. The problem is that we inhale this gas without knowing it. It will then cause deposits in the respiratory tract and irradiation. “ Classified as a lung carcinogen, radon has effects similar to passive smoking according to this specialist.
The reference level from which actions must be taken is set at 300 becquerels per m3. The French average is 90 Bq / m3, but it hides significant disparities between territories. In Paris, the radon concentration is 24 Bq / m3, while it reaches 264 Bq / m3 in Lozère. The IRSN application offers an estimate by municipality, depending on the type of dwelling (house or apartment). For those who would like to know the real rate of concentration in the home, it is possible to install detectors or call in certified specialists.
Overall, no reason to panic, but good practices can be put in place. “To limit the entry of radon, which mainly comes from the ground, we can act on the waterproofing of the slab or create a crawl space, details Geraldine Ielsch. To prevent the gas from stagnating, it is also necessary to renew the air and ensure that the rooms are ventilated. “ In this period of Covid-19, another reason to regularly open your windows!