Waterford homeowners urged to take the radon test

Date released: Oct 11 2010

More than one in five homes tested in Waterford have high levels of cancer-causing radon.

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) is in Waterford this week to highlight the dangers of exposure to radon gas. Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is linked to up to 200 lung cancer deaths each year in Ireland. In Waterford, more than one in five homes tested so far have high levels of the radioactive, tasteless, colourless and odourless gas. The information campaign, which will see an information pack sent to every house in the county, began last Saturday 9th October and will run until Saturday 16th.

Waterford has the second highest incidence in the country of homes with high radon levels, according to the RPII and the state agency is urging people to test their home. Mr David Fenton, Senior Scientist at the RPII, said: “We have targeted Waterford because there is a serious radon problem here. However, radon is only a problem if people ignore it in the hope it will somehow go away. It will not go away unless you find out what levels are in your home and reduce them if they are high. It is easy to test for radon and, if needs be, straightforward to reduce high levels. We would ask homeowners to protect themselves and their families from this unnecessary risk by taking the radon test this week.” 

The RPII has identified most of the county as a High Radon Area. That is, an area where more than 10 per cent of homes are predicted to have high levels of radon. Certain areas are predicted to have more than 20 per cent of homes with high levels. Those are the area south of the River Suir and bounded by and including Waterford city to the north-east, Tramore to the south-east, Bunmahon to the south-west and Kilmacthomas to the west. Mr. Fenton added that, “The RPII advises that all homes, particularly those located in High Radon Areas, should be measured for radon.” 

Five of the top fifty highest radon levels measured by the RPII in Ireland have been found in Waterford and range from 14 to 48 times the acceptable level. These were found in Butlerstown, two in Fenor, Cappagh and Dunhill between 2005 and 2009. The homeowners have since reduced their radon levels substantially. Besides the extremely high results, locations where high radon levels are consistently found include: Butlerstown, Carrick-on-Suir, Dungarvan, Dunhill, Fenor, Kilmacow, Kilmacthomas, Kilmeaden, Tramore and much of Waterford City. 

Testing for radon and, in the event of a high reading, reducing the levels present are both straightforward. 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, if present, is available on the website or on Freefone 1800 300 600. 

An interactive map is available on the website so that anyone can search for their address, or nearest town, to see whether their home or workplace is in a High Radon Area.