Europe files Spain for not taking the radon problem seriously: we continue without a national plan against this carcinogenic gas

"It is very difficult not to fall into alarmism when we talk about radon." In 2018, when we congratulated ourselves on the entry into force of the European directive 2013/59 / Euratom, we said that we were finally going to have legal instruments to control this a colorless, odorless, tasteless and invisible gas that arises naturally from the underground of many places and is responsible for up to 50% of all radiation we will receive throughout our lives.

We sin as optimists. Almost two years later, Europe has just opened a file with Spain for not establishing "basic safety standards for protection against the dangers derived from exposure to ionizing radiation." In other words, Spain lacks a national plan on the harmful effects of radon gas.

What is radon?

As I was saying, radon is an ionizing gas that originates in subsoils (especially granitic). Being heavier than air it tends to accumulate in basements and basements with poor ventilation. Due to its physical characteristics (lack of smell, color and taste), many people live on significant accumulations of gas without being aware of it.

This has consequences, according to the WHO, 14% of bronchopulmonary cancers are directly related to radon and, as I anticipated, estimates that around 50% of all the radiation that an average human being receives throughout his life is due to he.

In Spain, we were pioneers in the study of 'domestic radon' during the 1980s. Thanks to that, we discovered that the peninsular geography is full of places full of radon. Galicia and especially the province of Ourense (whose women are the most affected in the country by lung cancer) is in the lead, but there are also large concentrations in western Asturias, León, Zamora, Salamanca, Extremadura and northwest Andalusia.

And despite everything, the authorities turn a deaf ear

And not only the Spanish ones. The Commission has opened identical dossiers to Austria, Belgium, Estonia and Hungary as the first part of a process that may culminate with these countries sitting on the bench of the EU Court of Justice. Malta, Portugal, Cyprus and Greece are in this situation, whose cases will presumably be brought to the Court in the coming months.

And the truth is that it cannot be said that they did not have time. The directive was approved in 2013 and had to be transposed before February 6, 2018. In this case, Spain has given the Commission two more months before continuing with the infringement process. And the truth is that, with the climate of government instability in which the country has settled, it seems unlikely that we will meet these deadlines.

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