Community leaders urge homeowners to take the radon test

Date released: Sep 27 2010

Nearly 1 in 4 homes measured in Sligo has high levels of cancer-causing radon gas.

Public representatives from Sligo have urged people to test their homes for the radioactive gas radon, a deadly gas which is linked to up to 200 lung cancer deaths each year in Ireland. Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and Sligo has one of the highest incidences of homes with high radon levels in Ireland. 

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) has found that nearly one in four homes measured in Sligo has high levels of radon gas. The state body released figures, as recently as last week, which show that, of 379 measurements in Sligo so far this year, 92 were found to have high levels of the gas. 

Mr David Fenton, Senior Scientist at the RPII said: “We have been to Sligo a number of times to raise awareness among householders of the dangers of exposure to high levels of radon. We have been fully supported by local public representatives and Sligo County Council. Together we are committed to encouraging more people to test their homes as a first step in making their homes safe”. 

Fine Gael Councillor, Michael Fleming said he knew people who had had their homes tested for radon and it was easy, straightforward and inexpensive. “For around €50, most people get the peace of mind of knowing that their homes are safe and do not have dangerous levels of radon. Those who have high readings get the chance to do something about it before people living there are exposed to years of unnecessary exposure to a dangerous gas that causes cancer.” 

Fianna Fail Councillor, Martin Baker said: “Sligo has one of the highest incidences in Ireland of homes with high radon levels. We know this gas causes 200 lung cancer deaths nationwide each year and I would urge people to take the matter seriously and measure their home.” 

Labour Party candidate, Susan O’Keefe said many thousands of people in Sligo are unknowingly living with this risk, “Sligo has 25,000 private homes, one in four of them may be affected by high levels. That means some 6,250 homes or approximately 15,000 people may be exposed to high levels of radiation every day. I would urge all homeowners to act quickly and take the radon test to protect themselves and their families from this unnecessary and serious risk.” 

Sinn Fein Councillor, Sean MacManus said: “The findings published by the RPII last week show an increase in the number of people testing their homes, but it’s not enough. I know these are difficult times and money is tight, but we can’t put a price on our health. Long-term exposure to radon will damage your health and I would ask people to take the step and measure their home.” 

“We know that the vast majority of householders have not had their home tested for radon gas. Homeowners need to take this matter seriously and measure radon levels in their home. It doesn’t matter if you live in a new or old house, in a high or low radon risk area, or even if your home already has a radon barrier. The only way to make sure that you and your family are not at risk is to test,” Mr David Fenton, of the RPII concluded. 

Measuring for radon and, in the event of a high reading, reducing the levels present are both relatively inexpensive. To test for radon, one radon detector is placed in a bedroom and a second in a living room. The detectors are small and are sent and returned by post. There is no need for anyone to visit your home to make the test. The RPII charge €56 (inc. VAT) for a test, prices vary from other test suppliers. Detailed information on radon, its risks, how to get your home or workplace tested, a list of test suppliers and how to reduce high levels is available on the website  or on Freefone 1800 300 600.