Nineteen homes in South Tipperary have been identified as having radon gas levels above the acceptable level in the past five months, according to figures released today by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII). Among the findings is a home in Clonmel with nine times the acceptable level of radon where the occupants were receiving a radiation dose equivalent to six chest X-rays per day.
Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is directly linked to up to 200 lung cancer deaths each year and one in seven homes recently tested in South Tipperary by the RPII has high levels of the radioactive gas.
Commenting on the findings, Ms Stephanie Long, Senior Scientist at the RPII said: “Only a small fraction of homes in South Tipperary have been tested for radon. Our research shows that, of those that have already tested, there is a large percentage with high radon levels and so we are urging homeowners to take the radon test.”
In its latest publication of results from completed radon tests in the past five months, over 340 homes from across the country have been identified by the RPII as having high levels of radon. In South Tipperary, over 130 tests for radon gas were completed in homes during that time and of these, 19 were found to be above the acceptable level.
In addition to the home in Clonmel, which had nine times the acceptable level, there were two other homes in Clogheen and Cahir which had radon levels up to five times the acceptable level.The remaining 16 homes had radon levels above and up to three times the acceptable level and were found in: Clonmel (9), Carrick-On-Suir (2), Cahir (1), Cashel (1), Fethard (1), Kilsheelan (1) and Thurles (1).
“Tens of thousands of homeowners in South Tipperary have yet to test for radon and among them are many hundreds that are unknowingly living with a high risk to their family’s health. It is really important for people to test their home for radon as this is the only way of knowing if your family is exposed to this cancer-causing gas,” Ms Long concluded.
Measuring radon and, in the event of a high reading, fixing the problem are both easy to do. To test for radon, one radon detector is placed in a bedroom and a second in a living room for a three-month period. The detectors are sent and returned by post for analysis. The RPII and a number of private companies provide a radon measurement service. The cost of a measurement is around €50 depending on which measurement company is chosen. If a moderate radon level is found, improving indoor ventilation may reduce the level by up to half, the cost of which is low. For higher levels, a fan assisted sump can be installed which can reduce radon levels by over 90%. The sump can be installed in a day by a contractor with little disruption to the home. The typical cost of this work is €1,100 with annual running costs of approximately €90.
An interactive map is available on the RPII’s website (www.rpii.ie) so that anyone can search for their address or nearest town to see whether their home or workplace is in a High Radon Area. They can find out what they need to know about radon – what it is, why it is a problem and how they can have a measurement made. Information can also be obtained by phoning Freefone 1800 300 600.