RPII survey confirms high radon in 14% homes tested in Castleisland survey

Date released: May 13 2004

Today the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) announced the results of a radon survey undertaken in the Castleisland area of Co Kerry, following the identification in July 2003 of a house with radon concentrations of approximately 49,000 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3)

The survey identified 52 homes, or 14% of those sampled, with radon concentrations above the national Reference Level for homes of 200 Bq/m3. Radon measurements have also been completed in 90 Local Authority homes in Castleisland town on behalf of Kerry County Council. None of these had radon concentrations above the Reference Level.

Of the 52 homes with high radon levels, six had concentrations above 1000 Bq/m3, and the highest was 6184 Bq/m3. While this is considerably less than the 49,000 Bq/m3 identified in the house close to Castleisland in July 2003, it is the third highest radon concentration ever found in a house in Ireland. The Institute has advised all householders with radon concentrations above 200 Bq/m3 that they should have remediation work carried out.

Commenting on the results, Dr. Tony Colgan, a Principal Scientific Officer at RPII said: "It is clear from this survey that the potential exists for the accumulation of high radon concentrations in buildings in the areas around Castleisland and the adjacent town of Tralee. High radon concentrations have previously been reported for homes, schools and workplaces in these areas and all homeowners and employers who have not already done so are urged to have radon measurements carried out. The RPII survey also found very localised variability in radon concentrations in the study area and this reinforces the Institute’s advice that the only reliable way to know the radon concentration in your home is to have a measurement carried out".

The background to this survey was the discovery of an extremely high radon level in a home in Castleisland in July 2003. Following this, the RPII wrote to all of the approximately 2,500 households in the four national grid squares adjacent to the town of Castleisland advising them to have radon measurements carried out in their homes. To date 413 householders have requested measurements and results are now available for 377 of these. The remaining 36 householders have not yet returned their detectors.


Notes to Editors:
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is colourless, odourless and tasteless and can only be measured using specialised equipment. It is formed in the ground by the radioactive decay of uranium which is present in variable quantities in all rocks and soils.

Being a gas, radon has the ability to move through the soil and enter buildings through small cracks, holes or imperfections that may exist in the floor area.

Once in a building radon quickly decays to produce radioactive particles which are suspended in the air. When inhaled these particles can be deposited in the airways and attach themselves to lung tissue. This gives rise to a radiation dose which may eventually cause lung cancer.

From 1992 to 1999, the RPII carried out a National Survey of Radon in Dwellings. This survey classified areas in which greater than 10% of dwellings are predicted to have annual average radon concentrations greater 200 Bq/m3 as High Radon Areas. Approximately 33% of the country is classified as a High Radon Area See the website for full details.

Testing houses for radon is simple and inexpensive. It can be carried out by placing two small radon sensitive detectors in the house for three months. At the end of the three-month period the detectors are returned to the testing laboratory for processing. The procedure is carried out entirely by post and there is no need for anyone to visit the house.

The RPII advises all householders, particularly those living in High Radon Areas, to have their homes tested for radon.

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