Low level of radon testing within county

By Esther Hayden

Published 07/07/2015 | 00:00

Radon entering house
Radon entering house

There is a low rate of testing in Wexford homes this year for cancer-causing gas radon with Enniscorthy, Bunclody, Ferns, New Ross and Gorey all cited as high risk areas -

Radon gas is a naturally occurring cause of lung cancer and testing shows that Co Wexford homes are at risk of having unsafe levels of radon, the EPA advises. However reducing high radon concentrations is relatively straightforward and inexpensive.

Figures released by the EPA's Office of Radiological Protection show that, in the first six months of 2015, eight homes in Enniscorthy, two in Bunclody and one each in Ferns, New Ross and Gorey were above the acceptable level of 200 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3).

Levels of 550 Bq/m3 were recorded in one home in Enniscorthy. The radiation dose from this level of radon is equivalent to receiving two chest x-rays per day. However, the rate of testing in Wexford was low with only 23 homes in the county having been tested for the cancer-causing gas radon in the first six months of 2015.

A total of 2,521 homes have been tested in Wexford to date, of these 413 tested above 200 Bq/m3.

Stephanie Long, Senior Scientist with the EPA's Office of Radiological Protection said: 'We are very concerned at the low level of testing in county Wexford and urge householders to take this simple and inexpensive test to protect their family's health. Wexford is a high risk county and many families are unnecessarily exposed to high levels of radon in their own homes. Radon is the second cause of lung cancer after smoking and is linked to some 250 lung cancers in Ireland each year. Radon is only a problem if it is ignored and simple and inexpensive solutions are available to reduce excessive levels in the home.'

Since establishing its radon measurement programme in the early 1990s, the EPA's Office of Radiological Protection has measured almost 60,000 homes in Ireland. Of these, almost 8,400 were found to have unacceptably high levels of radon. Measuring for radon and, in the event of a high reading, fixing the problem are both easy to do. To test for radon, one radon detector is placed in a bedroom and the second in a living room for a three-month period. The detectors are sent and returned by post for analysis. The EPA's Office of Radiological Protection and a number of private companies provide a radon measurement service. The cost of a measurement is around €50 depending on which measurement company is chosen.

If a moderate radon level is found, 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. The typical cost of this work is around €925 with annual running costs of approximately €100 depending on the size of fan installed.

An interactive map is available on the EPA's website (http://www.epa.ie/radiation/) so that anyone can search for their address or nearest town to see whether their home or workplace is in a High Radon Area. They can find out what they need to know about radon - what it is, why it is a problem and how they can have a measurement made. For information contact 1800 300 600.

Wexford People

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