10,000 people in Co.Clare have had their homes tested for Radon. Have you?

Date released: Nov 05 2015

10,000 people in Co. Clare have had their homes tested for Radon.  Have you?

Risk to Clare homes from cancer causing radon gas to be highlighted

The EPA’s Office of Radiological Protection has today launched a dedicated communication campaign to generate awareness of the high levels of radon gas in Co.Clare.  Radon is a radioactive gas that is linked to the development of lung cancer.  The EPA is encouraging householders across Clare to carry out a simple test to ensure they are not being exposed to this colourlesss, odourless and tasteless gas.

Commenting on the radon risk in county Co. Clare, Stephanie Long, Senior Scientist with the EPA’s Office of Radiological Protection said:

“More than 10,000 Clare people are living in homes that have been tested for radon.  If you haven’t already done so, we would urge you to protect your family’s health by taking this simple and inexpensive test as soon as possible.  Clare is a high risk county and many families are unnecessarily exposed to high levels of radon in their own homes.  Radon is the second cause of lung cancer after smoking and is linked to some 250 lung cancers in Ireland each year. Radon is only a problem if it is ignored and solutions are available to reduce excessive levels in the home”.

There is direct evidence for a link between radon in the home and lung cancer.  For people who smoke, or who have smoked, the risk from radon is up to 25 times greater than for people who never smoked.

To inform residents of the risk from radon in county Clare two public meetings will be held in Ennis on Tuesday, 10th November at 1pm and 6pm in the Civic Rooms, Buttermarket (former Ennis Town Council), Ennis.  A third public meeting will be held in Shannon on Wednesday 11th November at 1pm at the Oakwood Arms Hotel, Airport Road, Shannon. Residents will receive  information on the effects of radon in the home, how to apply for a radon test and advice on how to solve the problem if it is found.  Information will also be sent to GP offices so that health care centres can advise patients on the harmful effects of radon on people’s health.

Further information about radon in the home, and about the particular campaign in Clare, is available on the EPA’s website or by phoning Freefone 1800 300 600. 

Further information: Niamh Hatchell/ Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or media@epa.ie

Notes to Editor

The EPA’s Office of Radiological Protection is the national competent authority for matters to do with ionising radiation.  Over the last number of years the EPA’s Office of Radiological Protection has conducted comprehensive public information campaigns on the risks from radon in Counties Sligo, Carlow, Waterford, South Tipperary, Galway, North Kerry, Wexford, Louth, Tipperary and Mayo.

Local awareness campaign in Clare

Testing by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that Co. Clare homes are at risk of having unsafe levels of radon.  Areas that are known to be at particular risk include Ennis, Clarecastle, Lisdoonvarna, Corofin and Ballyvaughan.  The home with the highest levels of radon to date in Clare was measured near Lisdoonvarna at 3,500 Bq/m3 – almost 18 times the Reference Level (or acceptable level) of 200 Bq/m3.  The radiation dose received by the occupants of this house would have been equivalent to receiving 12 chest X-rays every day.

What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that originates from the decay of uranium in rocks and soils. It has no smell, colour or taste and can only be detected using special detectors. Outdoors, radon quickly dilutes to harmless concentrations but when it enters an enclosed space, such as a house or other building, it can accumulate to unacceptably high concentrations. This gives rise to a radiation dose, which may cause lung cancer.
The national Reference Level (or acceptable level) for radon in homes is 200 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3). The becquerel is the unit of radioactivity. A 'High Radon Area' is one in which more than 10 per cent of homes are predicted to have radon levels in excess of the national Reference Level.

Measuring for Radon

Measuring for 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 the second in a living room for a three-month period. The detectors are sent and returned by post for analysis. The EPA’s Office of Radiological Protection 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.  Where elevated levels of radon are found there are a number of straightforward options that can be used to reduce radon in the home.

Data for all radon measurements, undertaken by the EPA’s Office of Radiological Protection since the early 1990s to-date, is available on its website.  Since establishing its radon measurement programme in the early 1990s, the EPA’s Office of Radiological Protection has measured almost 60,000 homes in Ireland.  Of these, almost 8,400 were found to have unacceptably high levels of radon. Measuring for radon and, in the event of a high reading, fixing the problem are both easy to do.

Specific guidance on radon prevention measures for new homes is contained in the “Building Regulations 1997, Technical Guidance Document C – site preparation and resistance to moisture” which is published by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.   The guidance specifies that all new homes, built since 1st July 1998, must be fitted with a standby radon sump which can be activated at a later stage to reduce any high radon concentrations subsequently found. For homes built in High Radon Areas, the installation of a radon barrier as well as a standby radon sump is required.