Radon Kills. Cancer causing gas is a cause for concern in Wicklow – Get your home tested today!

Date released: Nov 11 2016

Radon Kills. Cancer causing gas is a cause for concern in Wicklow – Get your home tested today!

  • Over 2,300 homes in County Wicklow have been tested for Radon, 16% were found to be have high radon levels
  • One home in Wicklow was found to have over 80 times the national reference level (or acceptable level)
  • This level can deliver a radiation dose equivalent to 56 chest x-rays every day

The EPA is encouraging people in Co. Wicklow to test their homes for radon. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas with no colour, taste or smell.   Every year in Ireland exposure to radon in homes is linked to some 250 lung cancers.  The EPA has highlighted Wicklow as a priority county as many parts of the county are known to have high radon levels.  Areas in particular where homes with high levels of radon have been found include Blessington, Aughrim, Avoca, Kiltegan, Manor Kilbride and Rathdrum.

David Fenton, Senior Scientist with the EPA said,

“Over 2,300 homes in Wicklow have been tested for radon and these householders now have the reassurance of knowing their radon risk and how to reduce it if high levels were found.  Wicklow is a high risk county and we have found high levels in many homes.  Many more families are unknowingly living with high radon levels. I would urge you to protect your family’s health and measure your home for radon.”

Measuring for radon is inexpensive and straightforward as David Fenton explained,

 “Radon test kits can be ordered from the EPA or from other radon measurement services.  Test kits are delivered by post and are simple to use; place the two detectors in your home and after 3 months return them to the testing laboratory.  Full instructions are provided, and you will receive a full test report.  If a high level of radon is found you will be advised what to do.   The cost of a radon test is around €50 depending on which radon measurement service you choose.
“Radon is only a problem if it is ignored” he continued. “It is the second most important cause of lung cancer in Ireland after smoking.  Reducing your radon concentration will immediately reduce your risk from lung cancer.  If high levels are found there are simple and inexpensive solutions available to reduce excessive radon levels in the home”.

As part of the EPA’s communications campaign, GP offices and health centres in Wicklow will receive an information pack containing information on the effects of radon in the home, how to apply for a test, and advice on how to solve the problem. Further information on what radon is, radon measurement testing and what to do if you have high levels of radon, is available on the radon.ie website or by phoning Freefone 1800 300 600. 

Notes to Editor

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

Local awareness campaign in County Wicklow

Testing by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that Co. Wicklow homes are at risk of having unsafe levels of radon.  Areas that are known to be at particular risk include Blessington, Aughrim, Avoca, Kiltegan, Manor Kilbride and Rathdrum. The home with the highest levels of radon to date in Wicklow was measured in a holiday home near Aughrim at 16,438 Bq/m3 – over 80 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 56 chest X-rays every day. The radon concentrations in this house were subsequently reduced to well below the Reference Level.

What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas formed in the ground from the radioactive decay of uranium which is present in all rocks and soils.  It has no smell, colour or taste and can only be detected using radon 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.   Radon is a lung carcinogen and is linked to some 250 lung cancer cases each year in Ireland making it a serious public health hazard.

Testing a home

The cost of testing your home varies depending on which test supplier you choose, but is in the region of €50. Two small detectors are sent to your home, placed in the bedroom and living room, the rooms most occupied by the family, and after three months they are returned to the testing company to be analysed and the results are then given to the householder together with some advice on what to do next. The whole process is done by post and there is no need for anyone to visit your home.

What can be done to reduce high radon concentrations in a home?

Radon problems in a home can be fixed easily, relatively inexpensively and usually without disruption to the household. A booklet entitled Understanding Radon Remediation – A Householder’s Guide will help you learn more about the solutions available and how best to deal with the problem, is available on www.radon.ie. In addition, the EPA holds a list of companies who are known to provide a radon remediation service and this is also available on the website.