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Minister Denis Naughten announces new Radon Testing for homes in high risk areas

27th April 2018

 

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten has announced that approximately 1,400 homes in the West and Mid-West of the country will be tested for radon levels.

 

Minister Naughten is providing €70,000 to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to undertake the radon test in high risk areas in East Galway and Roscommon.

 

"The EPA will undertake the comprehensive Radon Testing and Remediation Survey, including behavioural factors, which will help inform the design of a new financial incentive scheme, which may be provided for in future legislation," stated Minister Naughten.

 

The Radon Testing and Remediation Survey will assess the degree of uptake of radon testing and remediation in homes in high radon areas and adjacent lower risk areas.

 

"We have a particular problem in the Mid-West and West of the country with radon gas. The difficulty with radon gas is that it is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which originates from the decay of uranium in rocks and soils and is colourless, odourless and tasteless. People do not know that there is a build-up of radon in their homes. After smoking, it is the next biggest cause of lung cancer in this country and responsible for approximately five cases of lung cancer in Ireland every single week," added Minister Naughten.

 

The study has three main aims confirmed the Minister:

 

  • to establish if offering financial assistance with remediation in the event of a high indoor radon measurement increases the willingness of homeowners to test for radon;
  • to estimate the proportion of homeowners who would avail of assistance to remediate in the event of a high test, and consequently, to provide an estimate of the cost of providing such a remediation grant; and
  • to establish if either of items 1 or 2 above depend on whether the homeowner is in an already defined high radon area.

 

"From this Monday the 30th of April the EPA will write to householders inviting them to take part in the survey.  If you receive this letter I would really encourage you to accept the invitation to test.  Householders will be invited to carry out a free radon test in their home and to complete a short questionnaire.  The radon tests will begin in June and results will be back by September.  If high radon levels are found, the householder will be offered a grant of 50% towards the cost of remediation work," concluded Minister Naughten.

 

For further information contact the EPA on radon@epa.ie or 1800 300 600.

 

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Note for Editors:

 

Radon in Ireland

 

In Ireland, around 250 cases of lung cancer each year are linked to exposure to radon. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas.  It is formed in the ground by the radioactive decay of uranium which is present in all rocks and soils.  The World Health Organization has categorised radon gas as a class 1 carcinogen, in the same group as asbestos and tobacco smoke. Radon is the second highest cause of lung cancer after smoking, and it is the main cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

 

Outdoors radon is diluted to very low concentrations. However, radon can enter a home from the ground through small cracks in floors and through gaps around pipes or cables and sometimes build up to very high indoor concentrations. Homes in some parts of the country are more likely to have high indoor concentrations of radon. These parts of the country are called high radon areas.  About one third of Ireland is categorised as a high radon area. 

 

While, it is possible to test for radon levels and remediate homes to reduce the associated lung cancer risk, there have to date been low levels of radon testing and home remediation in Ireland. Although there are high levels of awareness of radon (the most recent Irish data show awareness at 75%), most people underestimate the seriousness or long-term health effects of radon exposure, with only one in four concerned about radon in their home. Furthermore, even when individuals are informed that their homes have high radon levels, remediation rates are low. The main barriers to action were found to be that people are "not convinced there is a risk" (35%) and "concern about cost" (34%).

 

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