Radon Levels Exceed Previous Estimates

A study by Radon experts has shown Ireland's levels of the radioactive gas are up to 9% higher than previously thought.

In a report, 'Radiation Doses Received by the Irish Population' published on Monday by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII), the radiation dose received by the Irish population shows a 9% increase over previous estimates.

The report says the Irish population is exposed to higher levels of radiation than many other European countries, with the average annual radiation dose at 3950 microsievert, compared to 2600 in the UK, and a worldwide average of 2800.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, which originates from the decay of uranium in rocks and soils.

It is colourless, odourless and tasteless and can only be measured using special equipment. Radon can accumulate in houses or other buildings and can sometimes reach unacceptably high concentrations, according to the Institute.

When inhaled into the lungs the particles give a radiation dose, which may damage cells in the lung and eventually lead to lung cancer. Radon exposure is believed to be the second largest cause of lung cancer in Ireland.

Fine Gael's Environment Spokesman, Phil Hogan TD, said the Government needs to act in light of the research.

"The study by the Radiological Protection Institute shows the dose of radiation received by the Irish population is nine percent higher than previous estimates and radon is the primary source of radiation here," said the minister.

He added: "It is also worrying that the Irish population is exposed to higher levels of radiation than many other European countries.

"The elimination of this gas is such a serious issue that it should be included for grant assistance under the Greener Homes Scheme."

A spokesman for the institute said the level of average exposure for a person in Ireland is equivalent to about 200 chest X-rays per person per year.


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