Research

Here you will find a description of research projects on radiation in the environment in which the EPA is involved.

Key functions of the EPA

One of our key functions is to advise the Government, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government and other Ministers on a range of matters relating to radiation protection.  Research supports this advisory function in a number ways including:

  • Maintaining links with other scientists, in Ireland and abroad
  • Keeping up to date with research findings
  • Maintaining an in-house level of expertise in research methodology, which is crucial in providing high quality advice
  • Maintaining our state of preparedness in the event of a radiation emergency
  • Contributing to the understanding of radiation in the environment.

We have participated in various research projects over the course of the last three decades which has developed the organisation’s technical capacity and skills base. The main areas of research in which we have been active in the past include: radioecology, radon, food and agricultural countermeasures and environmental assessment.

Research will continue to play an important role in underpinning delivery of the EPA’s mandate. We carry out research directly (independently and collaboratively) and fund external research. It is anticipated that both approaches will continue to play an important role in the future.

Three key research drivers have been identified and inform our research priorities:

  • Update of the Radiation Doses Received by the Irish Population report
  • Support for the National Radon Control Strategy
  • Advice to Government on the radiological impact on Ireland of proposed new nuclear power plants in the UK and decommissioning of existing facilities.

Current and scheduled research work

Below are descriptions of current or scheduled RPII work which include a significant element of research.

Carlingford Lough study - an update

A radio-ecological study of Carlingford Lough is planned for 2012-2013. The study will include a dose assessment for high-rate seafood consumers living in the Carlingford Lough area and a comparison with the results of a similar study conducted by RPII in the early 1990s.

Collaborators: UCD (Ireland) and NIEA (Northern Ireland)

The effectiveness of radon preventive and remedial measures in Irish social housing

In Ireland, technical guidance in support of the Building Regulations specifies that homes built since July 1998 in High Radon Areas are installed with a radon barrier. A High Radon Area is any 10-km grid square where 10% or more of all homes are predicted to exceed the National Reference Level of 200 Bq/m3. Radon measurement results from local authority homes in High Radon Areas in County Cork have allowed the impact of these regulations to be assessed. Homes exceeding the Reference Level were remediated with the use of an active sump.

This study had two main objectives:

  • To assess what effect the revised Building Regulations had on radon concentrations in homes built following their introduction;
  • To measure the effectiveness of installing an active radon sump in homes with elevated radon concentrations.

Collaborators: Local Authorities

Caesium-137 in a variety of seaweed species from around the Irish Coast

A collaboration was established in 2013 between the National University of Ireland-Galway (NUIG) and the RPII to assess the levels of caesium-137 in commercially important seaweeds. The aim of this research is to provide a concise overview of the presence of anthropogenic radioactivity in commercially important seaweeds from harvesting locations on the west coast of Ireland, as well as a direct comparison with locations on the south and east coasts. Some of the species being studied are used in foods, nutritional supplements and fertilisers. The study is due to be completed in 2014 and a joint scientific article will be prepared for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.

Collaborators: NUIG