Check for killer gas in your Kilkenny home

One in eight  homes tested in Kilkenny were found to have radon levels above the acceptable level

Sean Keane

Reporter:

Sean Keane

Email:

sean.keane@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny Kilkenny Kilkenny

Radon is second only to smoking as the leading cause of lung cancer.  It is estimated that about 300 lung cancer cases each year in Ireland are linked to radon exposure

The EPA is calling on householders in Kilkenny to take action to protect themselves and their families.  One in eight  homes tested in County Kilkenny were found to have radon levels above the acceptable level.   In these homes, remedial action should be carried out as a matter of urgency to reduce exposure to radon.  Many parts of Kilkenny are deemed as high radon areas.

Radon is second only to smoking as the leading cause of lung cancer.  It is estimated that about 300 lung cancer cases each year in Ireland are linked to radon exposure.  Reducing high radon levels will, over time, save lives.

Radon is easy to test for and easy to fix, so learning more about what it is, and how you can protect yourself is critical. The World Health Organisation has categorised radon as a Group 1 carcinogen, in the same group as asbestos and tobacco smoke.

 Alison Dowdall, Scientist, Environmental Protection Agency said: “Radon is invisible, colourless and odourless. It is present in all Irish homes and it is estimated that up to 500,000 people are living in homes with radon levels above the acceptable level of 200 Bq/m3.  Radon is only a problem if it is ignored. If there is a high radon level in your home, it is exposing you and your family to an unnecessary radiation dose. 

“Reducing radon levels is simple and inexpensive and will immediately reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. For moderate levels of radon, improving indoor ventilation may reduce the level by up to half, the cost of which is low. For higher levels, a fan assisted ‘sump’ can be installed which can reduce radon levels by over 90 per cent. The sump can be installed in a day by a contractor with little disruption to the home.  If you know you have high radon levels in your home and haven’t already done so, we would urge everyone in Kilkenny to protect your family’s health by reducing radon as soon as possible”.

Take the first step today and have your home tested for radon.  Give yourself and your family the peace of mind that your home is safe.  If your results are high, it is easy to reduce the levels in your home.  For more information and to find a list of registered radon testing and remediation services visit www.radon.ie

What is Radon?

Radon is a radioactive gas formed in the ground from the radioactive decay of uranium which is present in all rocks and soils.  It has no smell, colour or taste and can only be detected using radon detectors. Outdoors, radon quickly dilutes to harmless levels but when it enters an enclosed space, such as a house or other building, it can accumulate to unacceptably high levels. Radon is a lung carcinogen and is linked to some 300 lung cancer cases each year in Ireland making it a serious public health hazard.

About a third of Ireland is classified as a high radon area by the EPA, however, the EPA recommends that homeowners in all areas test their homes for radon. Ireland has relatively high indoor radon levels, with an average indoor level of 77 Bq/m3, compared to the worldwide average of 39 Bq/m3.

 

Testing a home
Two small detectors are sent to your home, one is placed in the bedroom and one in the living room, the rooms most occupied by the family. After three months they are returned to the service provider for analysis. The results will be sent to you together with some advice on what to do next. The whole process is done by post and there is no need for anyone to visit your home.

Radon is present in all homes however, levels can vary. Just because your neighbour’s home has been deemed safe from radon does not mean you are safe

Where can I get a radon test
You can find a list of EPA registered radon measurement services and details about how to test and fix your home on www.radon.ie. Radon testing costs on average €60.

What can be done to reduce high radon levels in a home?
Radon problems in a home can be fixed easily, relatively inexpensively and usually without disruption to the household. A booklet entitled Understanding Radon Remediation – A Householder’s Guide will help you learn more about the solutions available and how best to deal with the problem.

How are new homes protected from radon?
The Building Regulations require that all new homes built since 1998 in High Radon Areas are installed with a radon membrane.  The Construction Industry Federation offers training courses for site staff in the installation of radon membranes.  However, having a radon membrane is not a guarantee that a home will have low levels of radon. Therefore, even homes with radon membranes installed should be tested for radon. All new homes are also installed with a standby radon sump which can be activated if necessary.

What is European Radon Day?

The EPA is the national competent authority for matters to do with ionising radiation.  Over the last number of years, the EPA has conducted comprehensive public information campaigns on the risks from radon in Counties Kilkenny, Carlow, Waterford, South Tipperary, Galway, North Kerry, Wexford, Louth, Tipperary, Mayo and Clare and Wicklow.  Since 2017, the EPA has held a public information campaign to mark European Radon Day (7th November).  European Radon Day marks the birthday of Marie Curie, who won two Nobel prizes for her work on radioactivity. 

The National Radon Control Strategy
To address radon as a public health hazard, the Government published its first  National Radon Control Strategy (NRCS) in 2014. The aim of the strategy is to reduce the number of lung cancer cases in Ireland.  In February this year, new legislation was put in place which requires Ireland to have a national radon action plan. The second phase of the NRCS was launched in May 2019 and addresses this requirement. The NRCS is implemented by a Cross-Government group led by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.