Minister Tony Killeen has welcomed the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Radiological Protection Institute’s (RPII) agreement of a joint position paper on the radioactive gas radon.
The paper advocates for a national radon strategy, which will form the basis for a coordinated response for the future.
Minister Killeen says the move is significant in light of recent figures from the RPII showing that 342 or 11% of the 3033 Clare homes tested by the RPII had radon levels above the Reference Level of 200 Bq/m3.
According to the RPII the occupants of these 342 homes may be receiving radiation doses equivalent to several chest X-rays per day. The highest level measured in a County Clare home in Clare is 2980 Bq/m3, almost 15 times above the Reference Level. This level of radio corresponds to 10 chest X-rays every day.
The parts of Clare that have a predicted 20% or more of houses registering radon levels in excess of 200 Bq/m3, include Ennis and its environs, Crusheen, Corofin, Ruan, Kilnamona, Inagh, Clarecastle and Newmarket on Fergus.
Areas of the County registered where more than 10% of houses are predicted to have high radon levels in excess of 200 Bq/m3 include the entire North Clare area from Kilshanny to Belharbour and Carron to Doolin, along with Ballynacally, Shannon, Sixmilebridge, Bunratty, Quin, Tulla and Feakle.
According to Minister Killeen, who was formerly a former Minister with responsibility for the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, exposure to radon gas is linked to some 200 lung cancer deaths each year in Ireland.
The Clare T.D. explained: “Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that originates from the decay of uranium in rocks and soils. It has no smell, color or taste and can only be detected using special detectors. Outdoors radon quickly dilutes to harmless concentrations, but when it enters an enclosed space, such as a house or other building, it can accumulate to unacceptably high concentrations. This gives rise to a radiation dose, which may cause lung cancer.”
The Minister urged all householders, particularly those living in High Radon Areas, to have their homes tested for radon. He added it was unnecessary for the public to put themselves at risk from radon. “Householders need to take this matter seriously and measure radon levels in their homes to ensure that they and their families are not at risk. Where there is a need to reduce levels, remediation is relatively cheap compared to other household repairs and resolves the situation immediately”, he stated.
Minister Killeen continued: “Testing for radon involves the placing of one radon detector in a bedroom and a second in a living room for a three-month period. The detectors are the size of an air freshener and can be sent and returned by post for analysis. A number of private companies and the RPII provide a radon measurement service to the public for as little as EUR56.”
Radon is a Class-1 carcinogen. Long-term exposure to radon increases the risk of lung cancer. Based on current knowledge it is estimated that in Ireland, for the population as a whole, a lifetime exposure (i.e. 70 yrs) to radon in the home at the Reference Level of 200 Bq/m3 carries a risk of about 1 in 50 of contracting fatal lung cancer. This is approximately twice the risk of death in a road accident. Radon is linked to approximately 200 lung cancer deaths in Ireland every year. For people who smoke, or who have smoked, the risk from radon is considerably greater than for people who never smoked.
Detailed information on radon and its risks, including information on how to get your home or workplace tested for radon is available on the RPII’s website www.rpii.ie.
Notes to Editor:
- For further information please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 00353868534900 or media ( @ ) dunphypr dot com
- High-resolution images of Minister Killeen are available to download from www.dunphyprimages.com