Inaugural meeting of Irish National Radon Forum

Date released: Sep 16 2002

Helping to reduce the risk from exposure to radon, the naturally occurring radioactive gas, is the overriding aim of the Irish National Radon Forum which meets today for the first time.

The Irish Forum is one of twenty national fora being established across Europe, all of which will be linked to a European Radon Forum as part of a project funded by the European Commission. The Irish participants in the project are The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII), which is responsible for organising the Forum and Remedia Limited – a company that specialises in reducing the radon concentration in buildings.

Once established each national Forum will be linked via the World Wide Web creating a network of radon information sources that will be freely accessible to everyone. The European Radon Forum will bring together radon scientists, national and local government representatives, building industry representatives, building control officers, radon remediation companies, materials manufacturers and suppliers, radon measurement companies and representatives from the real estate industry.

At the launch of the Forum, Mr. David Pollard, manager of the RPII’s Radon Department, said, "the aim of the project is to reduce the health risk from radon by significantly increasing the installation of radon mitigation measures in homes and workplaces through raising public awareness of both the risks associated with radon exposure and the availability of practical cost effective solutions.”

Ends.

Notes to Editor:

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas formed in the ground by the radioactive decay of uranium, which is present in rocks and soils everywhere. Because radon is a gas, it can move through soil enabling it to enter the atmosphere or seep into buildings. Radon, which surfaces in the open air is quickly diluted to harmless concentrations, but when it enters an enclosed space, such as a building, it can sometimes build up to unacceptably high concentrations

Radon has been classified by the International Agency for Research into Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organisation (WHO), as a Class A carcinogen. Lifetime exposure to elevated levels of radon increase a person's risk of contracting lung cancer.

A National Survey of Radon in Dwellings was carried out by the RPII between 1992 and 1999. The results of this survey were used to estimate the percentage of dwellings with high indoor radon levels for each 10 km grid square throughout the country. Grid squares, where more than 10% of dwellings are predicted to be above the national Reference Level for radon in dwellings of 200 Bq/m3, are classified as High Radon Areas. High radon levels in workplaces are also more likely to be found in these areas.

More information on radon gas, the RPII and the National Survey of Radon in Dwellings can be found on the website.