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Dublin: 16°C Thursday 30 June 2022

Cancer-causing radon found in over 430 Irish homes

One home in Tralee was found to have 26 times the acceptable level of radon.

Image: House via Shutterstock

Updated 21:00

A GAS THAT causes cancer has been found in over 430 homes in Ireland.

Radon is the second-biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is directly linked to more than 200 lung cancer deaths in Ireland each year.

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) said it found 434 homes with high levels of radon gas in the past 18 months.

Dr Ann McGarry, Chief Executive of the RPII, said that Ireland has a significant radon problem, and has some of the highest radon levels found in Europe.

Our research indicates that there are over 91,000 homes with high levels of radon and just over 7,900 have been found to date. Exposure to high radon levels causes lung cancer and many families are unknowingly living with a high risk to their health.

The highest radon level found was in a home in Tralee, Co Kerry, which was 26 times the acceptable level. This meant that the occupants were receiving the equivalent radiation dose of approximately 18 chest X-rays per day, or 6500 per year.

The survey found that 10 other homes – five in Kerry, three in Galway and one each in Clare and Wexford – had radon levels in excess of 10 times the acceptable level. The occupants of these homes received an equivalent radiation dose of more than 2500 chest X-rays per year.

In addition to this, a further 39 homes had radon levels between four and 10 times the acceptable level in Galway (15), Wexford (6), Kerry (4), Sligo (4), Cork (2), Wicklow (2), Clare (1), Limerick (1), Louth (1), Mayo (1), Tipperary (1) and Waterford (1).

The remaining 384 homes had radon levels up to four times the acceptable level and were found in high radon areas throughout the country.

Finding radon

In order to test for radon, you place a radon detector in a bedroom and a second in a living room for a three-month period.

After this, the detectors are sent by post for analysis to companies such as the RPII. The cost of a measurement is generally around €50.

Improving indoor ventilation could reduce the level of moderate radon by up to half, while for higher levels, installation of a fan assisted sump is the most common method of remediation.

If you want to find out if you are living in a high radon area, check out the RPII’s website or phone freefone 1800 300 600.

First published 06:30

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