Health specialists

The EPA and radon testing services use a graded approach to respond to reported radon concentrations in homes and workplaces above the relevant Reference Level (200 Bq/m3 for homes and 300 Bq/m3 for workplaces). This approach is summarised as follows:

Homes (Bq/m3) Workplaces (Bq/m3) Action
200 - 800 300 - 2600 Testing service writes to the customer recommending remedial action.
800 - 2000 2600 - 6500 As above and telephone the customer or testing service recommends contacting the EPA for advice.
2000 - 4000 6500 - 13000 As above and testing service notifies the EPA who may issue a public statement.
Above 4000 Above 13000 As above and the EPA may carry out local public awareness. The EPA will notify other statutory authorities and the local authority.

In Ireland, it is estimated that a lifetime exposure to radon in the home at the Reference Level of 200 Bq/m3 carries an average risk of about 1 in 50 of contracting lung cancer.

Radon risks for smokers and non-smokers

Smokers are at much greater risk of developing radon related lung cancer than non-smokers.

  • Least risk: Non-smoker and little radon exposure
  • Some risk: Non-smoker and some radon exposure
  • Increased risk: Smoker and little radon exposure
  • Greatest risk: Smoker and little radon exposure

The risk of contracting lung cancer following a lifetime exposure of 200 Bq/m3 is much lower for non-smokers at about 1 in 700 and far greater for active smokers at about 1 in 30.

Radon is a risk factor for lung damage due to its direct local effect on the lung. Cigarettes also have direct effects on the lung. There is no way of telling whether an individual lung cancer case is linked to radon or smoking.

Radon damage to human tissues is not detectable by routine medical testing. Also, there is no effective health screening test for lung cancer. Technologies such as CT screening also involve radiation exposure and are not recommended in this situation.

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