Twenty-nine homes in Tipperary have been found to have high levels of cancer-causing radon gas in the past nine months, according to figures released today by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).
Two homes had readings of more than 10 times the acceptable level. Nationally, radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is directly linked to about 200 lung cancer deaths each year.
A record number of homes (over 800) from across the country have been identified as having high levels of radon in the last nine months. Among the findings is a home in north Kerry with levels 185 times the acceptable level which is amongst the highest ever found in a European house.
In Tipperary, a total of 160 homes were measured by the RPII for radon gas between 1st September 2010 and 1st June 2011. Of these, 29 were above the acceptable level of 200 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3).
Mr David Fenton, Senior Scientist at the RPII said: “The high levels are a cause for concern as radon causes lung cancer and for those with homes that have high levels, testing is the first step towards making your home safe.”
Two homes, in Clonmel and Cahir had more than ten times the acceptable level with readings in excess of 2000 Bq/m3. The home in Clonmel was more than 17 times the acceptable level. Another home in Carrick-On-Suir had more than five times the acceptable level with readings in excess of 1000 Bq/m3.
The remaining 26 results had readings of between 200 and 600 Bq/m3 and were found mainly in the south of the county: Ballyporeen (1), Carrick-On-Suir (1), Clonmel (18), Fethard (1), Nenagh (2), Thurles (2) and Tipperary (1).
Commenting on the findings, Mr Fenton said: “These figures show that Tipperary, particularly the south, has a significant radon problem. Based on the National Radon Survey, we predict that there are hundreds more homes across the county 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.”
Measuring for radon and, in the event of a high reading, reducing the levels present 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 can be 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.
If a moderate radon level is found, improving indoor ventilation may reduce the level by up to half. The cost of doing this 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 with little disruption to the home. The average 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.