Tests on levels of radon gas in Sheffield city centre

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TESTS are being carried out at offices and businesses around Sheffield after higher than normal levels of potentially-deadly radon gas were discovered in the city centre.

Sheffield Council’s environmental health department has been taking samples in buildings after an increase in the naturally-occurring gas was found in two premises on Church Street and West Street.

Equipment has also been placed in the basement of office block Furnival House, on Furnival Gate, and workers in local shops said they were concerned about the risk to their health.

The radioactive gas, which seeps out of the ground and can be hazardous if there is no outlet for it to escape. is colourless and odourless. It has been linked to fatal diseases such as lung cancer.

A council spokeswoman said reports of increased radon levels were first received from Lloyds TSB, on Church Street, and Steel City House, where the Department for Work and Pensions is based.

Above-average radon readings were found in the basement storage room of Steel City House.

Staff have since been told to spend no longer than necessary in the basement, where files are kept.

The spokeswoman said: “The council’s environmental health officers have now carried out further sampling in a number of businesses in the locality to see if this is a more widespread issue.

“They are now awaiting the results from the Health Protection Agency on these samples.”

Coun Jack Scott, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “We are working with businesses in the city to advise employers on this issue and we are doing tests to identify if there is further action we should take to ensure all radon levels are below the agreed limits.”

A spokeswoman from the charity Shelter, which has an advice centre in Furnival House, said: “The council is currently awaiting the results of this monitoring and there is no recommendation that the premises should not be used.”

Samantha O’Kane, from the DWP, said Steel City House’s basement room was not accessed regularly, but ‘routine monitoring’ was ongoing.

“The level is such that someone would be perfectly safe as long as the time spent in the room each week is restricted,” she said.

And Claire Barrett, from Lloyds TSB, said bank customers should continue to use the branch as normal.