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'Why is the government ignoring the risk of radon to tenants?'

Radon is the principal source of radiation exposure, making up 56% of the overall dose received in Ireland.

A radon detector.
A radon detector.
Image: Lee via Flickr/CC

THE DEPARTMENT OF Housing says there are no plans to make testing for radon in rented accommodation mandatory.

Radon is the principal source of radiation exposure, making up 56% of the overall dose received in Ireland. Exposure increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer, and causes approximately 250 deaths from lung cancer in Ireland each year.

Radon is the principal source of radiation exposure, making up 56% of the overall dose received in Ireland. Exposure increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer, and causes approximately 250 deaths from lung cancer in Ireland each year.

Green Party councillor David Healy says that landlords are not testing for radon, putting people at risk.

“An estimated 250 people die of radon-related lung cancer every year in Ireland. So why is the Government ignoring the risk to tenants in private accommodation?

“Despite the fact that testing is easy and cheap, there is a problem in getting house owners to test their properties. The problem is most severe in private rental properties, where tenants living with the radon risk are not responsible for testing and, if necessary, remediating the house. As a result, even though, at around €50, it is clearly affordable, it is very unusual for private landlords to carry out radon tests.

“For example, in my own area of Howth/ Malahide, none of the private rental properties inspected by Fingal County Council over the last five years has had a radon test.”

Responding to Healy’s comments, the Department of Housing said:

“A key commitment in the Strategy was to review the regulations governing minimum standards in rented accommodation, to bring them into line with modern requirements. That review was completed and on 27 January 2017, the then Minister signed the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017. These regulations focus on tenant safety and include new measures covering heating appliances, carbon monoxide and window safety. With very limited exemptions, these apply to local authority and voluntary housing units as well as private rented residential accommodation.

“All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with the regulations. Responsibility for enforcement rests with the relevant local authority.

“At this stage, there are no plans to amend the regulations to introduce mandatory radon testing in rented accommodation but the matter will be kept under review.”

Exposure to radon gas is thought to be the second leading cause of lung cancer worldwide after smoking.

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