Galway had highest number of homes with unsafe radon levels last year

One house in Tralee, Co Kerry, at most risk nationally

Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is directly linked to more than 200 lung cancer deaths in Ireland annually.

Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is directly linked to more than 200 lung cancer deaths in Ireland annually.

 


Galway has the highest number of homes with unsafe levels of radon gas, while a home in Tralee, Co Kerry, is the worst individual case identified in new results released by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).

Of 434 homes which tested positive for elevated levels last year, 112 were in Galway, followed by 92 in Wexford. Kerry had the third highest figure.

Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is directly linked to more than 200 lung cancer deaths in Ireland annually, the institute says.

The home in Tralee had 26 times the acceptable level, with occupants receiving the equivalent radiation dose of about 18 chest X-rays a day or 6,500 a year, the agency says.

Exposure
Ten other homes, five in Kerry, three in Galway and one each in Clare and Wexford, had levels over 10 times the acceptable figure, translating into exposure to more than 2,500 chest X-rays annually.

Another 39 homes had radon levels between four and 10 times the acceptable level in Galway (15), Wexford (6), Kerry and Sligo (4 each), Cork and Wicklow (2 each), with one in Clare, Limerick, Louth, Mayo, Tipperary and Waterford.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas caused by the radioactive decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It has no smell, colour or taste, and is most harmful in enclosed spaces, diluting to harmless concentrations outdoors.

The RPII estimates that a lifetime exposure ( 70 years) to unsafe levels of radon in the home carries a one in 50 risk of contracting fatal lung cancer.

“Ireland has a significant radon problem, with some of the highest radon levels found in Europe,” RPII chief executive Dr Ann McGarry said yesterday. “The fact is that every second day someone dies from radon-induced lung cancer,” she said, appealing to people to participate in radon tests which cost €50 per kit.

Fan-assisted sump
Remediation measures for homes affected can involve simply improving indoor ventilation or, for higher levels, installing a fan-assisted sump.

Residents can check if their home or workplace is in a high radon area on the RPII website. Further information is available on rpii.ie or from freephone number 1800 300 600.