Government on course to tackle cancer-causing radon gas

Date released: Jan 17 2013

– a public health issue linked to 200 deaths a year.

Draft national radon control strategy launched for public consultation.

Plans for a national strategy to tackle the dangers of radon gas, which is linked to 200 lung cancer deaths each year in Ireland are progressing as today, Minister of State Mr Fergus O’Dowd, T.D. launched the public consultation on a draft National Radon Control Strategy at the National Radon Forum in Dublin.

The strategy aims to tackle the serious public health problem of radon gas by reducing the number of lung cancer cases caused by the gas. The National Radon Forum is hosted by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) and brings together a broad range of stakeholders focussed on addressing the radon problem in Ireland.

Launching the draft strategy, Minister O’Dowd said: “The Government decision to develop a national radon control strategy for Ireland was taken on foot of a recommendation made jointly by the HSE and RPII and in recognition of the fact that public safety matters are best dealt with through a ‘joined-up government’ approach.”

Dr Ann Mc Garry, Chief Executive of the RPII, said: “The development of a national radon control strategy will help reduce the 200 plus deaths each year in Ireland. The launch of this public consultation is key to ensuring that all views have been considered in dealing with this public health issue.”

The ultimate aim of the strategy is to reduce both the overall population risk and the individual risk for people living with high levels of radon gas in their homes. The draft strategy has been developed taking into account stakeholder views as gathered through questionnaires, focus groups and face to face meetings with a broad range of interested parties.

Addressing the Forum, Dr Trevor Boal of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said: “The development of a national radon strategy and the proactive involvement of interested parties are fully in line with international best practice.”

The strategy sets out a broad range of measures aimed at reducing the risk from radon to people living in Ireland.

These are set out in six thematic areas as follows:

  • Radon prevention in new buildings;
  • Use of property transactions (sales and rental) to drive action on radon;
  • Raising radon awareness and encouraging individual action on radon;
  • Supporting individual householders and employers with high radon results;
  • Promoting confidence in radon services and
  • Addressing radon in workplaces and public buildings.

The public consultation phase in the development of the strategy commencing today will take place over the next six weeks, ending 1st March. The consultation document is available from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.

The Forum, chaired by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government also heard from experts from the Health and Safety Authority, Building Standards and the RPII on key elements of the Strategy.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The draft Strategy is available for download:

Mr Fergus O’Dowd, T.D. is Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources and Environment, Community & Local Government.

The National Radon Forum is the tenth in a series of annual fora that provide an opportunity for those with a role to play in reducing the risk from radon in Ireland to review progress and to consider new strategies based on best international practice.

Detailed information on radon and its risks, including information on how to get your home or workplace tested for radon is available on the website or on freefone 1800 300 600.

The inter-agency group that worked to develop the draft Strategy comprises members from the following: Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (Chair), Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, Health Service Executive, Health and Safety Authority, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Geological Survey of Ireland, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, County and City Managers' Association and Department of Health and Children.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that originates from the decay of uranium in rocks and soils. It has no smell, colour or taste and can only be detected using special 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.