AREAS of Oxfordshire have recorded high levels of a poisonous gas linked with lung cancer.

Radon testing firm PropertECO has warned during recent work it has found the radioactive gas at six times the recommended level in parts of the county, including Headington in Oxford, Chipping Norton and Banbury.

Though the gas is naturally occurring and in low levels is found throughout the UK, higher levels of radon put people at greater risk of developing lung cancer, according to Public Health England.

The government agency's information page about the gas, which includes an interactive map of the areas most likely to have high levels of radon, said the substance is ‘everywhere’.

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It explained it is formed from the decay of uranium in all rocks and soil, adding: “Outdoors everywhere and indoors in many areas the radon levels are low and the risk to health is small.

“The darker the colour on the radon maps, the greater the chance of a high radon level in a building. However not all buildings, even in the darkest areas, have high levels.”

In Oxfordshire, the north and west of the county show areas of dark red. In white areas the chance of unsafe levels is less than one home in a hundred and greater than one in three in the darkest spots.

In 2011 the Health Protection Agency (HPA), which became part of Public Health England in 2013, urged 9,000 residents around Chipping Norton, Enstone and Charlbury to use free kits to measure the level of radioactive radon in their homes.

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About 4,500 took up the over and measured the amount of the gas for three months.

Of those, action was needed to cut the levels of radon in one in 10 homes.

Public Health England estimates radon causes approximately 1,000 lung cancer deaths in the UK every year.

The radioactive elements formed by the decay of radon can be inhaled and enter our lungs.

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Inside the lungs, these elements continue to decay and emit radiation, most importantly alpha particles.

These are absorbed by the nearby lung tissues and cause localised damage.

This damage can lead to lung cancer.

Cancer Research UK said if the radioactive gas builds up indoors it can increase the risk of lung cancer but stressed: "A large majority of radon-related lung cancers are caused by a combination of smoking and indoor radon gas."

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Public Health England said studies in ‘many countries’ had shown increased exposure to radon increases a person’s risk of developing lung cancer.

PropertECO managing director, Charles Edwards, said: “We are a radon testing and mitigation company and we have dealt with a number of properties in the Oxfordshire area and have seen levels six times the target level advised by Public Health England.

“The only true way to know if you are in radon affected area is to purchase a radon test kit.

“If your property has high radon levels, we are able to successfully reduce the levels using a combination of radon sumps and positive pressure systems.”

For more information visit or the government's website