Radon Levels 'Amongst Highest In Europe'

A record number of homes from across the country have been identified with high levels of radon gas according to new figures released today by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).

Among the findings is a home in north Kerry with extraordinarily high concentrations of the cancer-causing radioactive gas which is amongst the highest ever found in Europe.

Nationally, radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is directly linked to about 200 lung cancer deaths each year.

Almost 5,000 people tested their homes for radon during the nine-month period between 1st September 2010 and 1st June 2011 and over 800 of those have recorded a high level. The highest level found was in a home in the Castleisland area of north Kerry and had an average radon concentration of 37,000 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3) or 185 times above the acceptable level of 200 Bq/m3. It is located only a few kilometres away from the highest ever reading in an Irish house of 49,000 Bq/m3 found in 2003.

Eighteen homes were identified over 2,000 Bq/m3, which is ten times above the acceptable level of 200 Bq/m3. Those homes were located in Sligo, Tipperary, Galway, Cork, Wexford, Carlow, Donegal, Kerry, and Waterford.

More than 700 homes had levels up to 4 times the acceptable level and were found throughout the country.

Commenting on the latest findings, Chief Executive of the RPII Dr Ann McGarry said: “These figures show that Ireland has a significant radon problem. Based on the National Radon Survey, we predict that there are thousands more homes across the country with high levels of radon gas. To date, only a very small proportion of these homes have been identified. Exposure to high radon levels causes lung cancer and many people are unknowingly living with very high levels in their homes. The only way people will know if it is in their homes is by testing.”


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