High radon levels in 17 Louth homes

Seventeen homes in Louth have been found with radon gas levels above the acceptable level in the past year and a half, according to figures released today by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).

Seventeen homes in Louth have been found with radon gas levels above the acceptable level in the past year and a half, according to figures released today by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).

One home in Dundalk had more than four times the acceptable level. This is the highest level of radon found in a home in Louth to date and the occupants were receiving a radiation dose equivalent to more than 1000 chest X-rays per year.

In Louth, 294 tests for radon gas were completed in the past year and a half and of these, 17 were found to be above the acceptable level.

Commenting on the findings, David Fenton, Senior Scientist at the RPII said: “We know that Louth has a particular problem with radon and yet only a fraction of homeowners have tested. Our research shows that, of the homes already tested, there is a large percentage with high radon levels.”

In addition to the home with the highest level, ten homes in Dundalk, two in Carlingford, two in Drogheda and one each in Ardee and Clogherhead were found with radon levels above and up to 4 times the acceptable level.

Tens of thousands of homeowners in Louth have yet to test for radon and among them are many thousands that are unknowingly being exposed to this cancer causing gas. It is really important for people to test their home for radon as this is the only way of protecting your family”, said Mr Fenton.

Measuring 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 a second in a living room for a three-month period. The detectors are sent and returned by post for analysis. The RPII and a number of private companies provide a radon measurement service. The cost of a measurement is around €50.

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, installation of a fan assisted sump is the most common method of remediation which can reduce radon levels by over 90%. 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 €850 with annual running costs of approximately €100 depending on the size of fan installed.

An interactive map is available on the RPII’s website (www.rpii.ie) 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. Information can also be obtained by phoning Freefone 1800 300 600.