‘Radon is only a problem if you ignore it’

Two public meetings about the dangers of exposure to radon gas were held in Dundalk and Carlingford this week. The meetings were part of a wider campaign by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII), to urge people in Louth to test their homes for the presence of the cancer-causing gas, radon.

Two public meetings about the dangers of exposure to radon gas were held in Dundalk and Carlingford this week. The meetings were part of a wider campaign by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII), to urge people in Louth to test their homes for the presence of the cancer-causing gas, radon.

The information campaign is supported by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Health Service Executive and Louth Local Authorities. The RPII’s campaign is to persuade the people of Louth to ‘Take the Radon Test’. As part of that campaign every home in Louth has received an information pack with their post outlining the dangers of the cancer-causing gas, radon. Louth’s TDs, Senators and Councillors have being briefed on the issue and there has been advertising in local papers and on radio.

Radon, a radioactive, odourless, invisible and tasteless gas is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is linked to up to 200 lung cancer deaths each year in Ireland.

The meetings in Drogheda heard from Stephanie Long, Senior Scientist with the RPII, who said: “Radon is only a problem if you ignore it. The first step is to protect yourself and your family by testing your house for radon. A measurement involves two radon detectors which are about the size of a digestive biscuit being posted to your house. One of these is placed in the living room and one in the bedroom for three months. These are then posted back to the measurement company for analysis. It really is as simple as that.”

Speaking at the public meeting in Dundalk Councillor Mark Dearey said: “Only by taking the radon test can you be certain of the level of exposure.”

Speaking at the meeting in Carlingford,Councillor Peter Savage said: “I welcome the RPII’s campaign in County Louth. Much of the Cooley peninsula is a high risk area which is why the RPII recommends that all householders get their homes tested.”

A number of service providers provide a radon measurement service. The cost of a measurement is around €50 depending on which service provider is chosen and includes postage.

If radon reduction is required there are two straightforward methods commonly used. If a moderate radon level is found, improving indoor ventilation may be sufficient and the cost of this is relatively low. If higher levels are found, a fan assisted sump can be installed 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 €1,100 with the fan costing approximately €90 per year to run.

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. On the website, they can also 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 the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland on Freefone 1800 300 600.