National Radon Control Strategy launched

Date released: Feb 17 2014

Exposure to radon gas is a serious public health issue and is linked to 250 lung cancer cases each year in Ireland

A national strategy to tackle the 250 lung cancer cases linked to exposure to radon was launched today by Minister for the Environment, Mr Phil Hogan, T.D. at the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland’s (RPII) annual National Radon Forum in Kilkenny. The National Radon Forum brings together a broad range of stakeholders focussed on addressing the radon problem in Ireland.

The National Radon Control Strategy aims to tackle this serious public health problem by reducing the number of lung cancer cases caused by the radioactive gas radon. Launching the Strategy, Minister Hogan said: “The aim of this Strategy is to minimise the exposure to radon gas for people in Ireland and to reduce, to the greatest extent practicable, the incidence of radon related lung cancers.”

Dr Ann Mc Garry, Chief Executive of the RPII, said: “The proactive involvement of many Government departments and agencies is the best way of tackling this problem and is fully in line with international best practice. We believe that the full implementation of this strategy will see a reduction of the current 250 lung cancer cases caused by radon each year in Ireland.”

The inter-agency group that worked to develop the Strategy comprised 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.

An overriding consideration in developing the strategy was to ensure it was cost effective and practical. Recommendations were developed using health economics tools and the measures proposed were put out for public consultation.  It sets out some 48 recommendations under the following general headings: 

  • Prevention

Preventing the problem in new buildings through better building standards and training of building professionals

  • Reduction

Reducing levels of radon in existing properties through initiatives such as exchanging information at the time of selling properties, compliance with housing standards regulations and continuing the programme of radon testing in social housing

  • Awareness

Raising awareness of the health hazard, in order to encourage the public to take action, through: information campaigns, education and a dedicated website with information for householders, employers, builders and radon service providers.

  • Regulation

Ensure the implementation of effective regulations relating to radon. These include regulations covering protection from radon in the workplace and regulations concerning the incorporation of radon prevention into new buildings.

The strategy document is available from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government website.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The National Radon Forum is the eleventh in a series of annual forums 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.

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 

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.