HEALTH One in seven Mayo homes has high levels of cancer-causing radon gas

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Radon detectors read the level of the harmful gas in your home.
MEASURE TO BE SURE?Radon detectors read the level of the harmful gas in your home.

One in seven Mayo homes has high levels of cancer-causing radon gas


Ballina home had five times the acceptable level – equivalent to over 1,200 chest X-rays per year

Fourteen percent of homes in Mayo recently tested for radon were found to have high levels of the cancer-causing gas, according to startling figures released last week by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII). One home in Ballina had five times the acceptable level, with the occupants receiving a radiation dose equivalent to over 1,200 chest X-rays per year.
Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is directly linked to more than 200 lung cancer deaths each year in Ireland.
In Mayo, 86 tests for radon gas were completed in the past year and a half. Of these, 12 – or one in seven – were found to be above the acceptable level.
Commenting on the findings, David Fenton, Senior Scientist at the RPII said: “We know that Mayo 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, three homes in Ballina, two each in Ballyhaunis and Claremorris and one each in Foxford, Irishtown, Swinford and Westport were found with radon levels of up to three times the acceptable level.
“Tens of thousands of homeowners in Mayo 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 cost of a measurement by RPII – which is an independent public body under the aegis of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government – is around €50 (ex VAT).
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 percent. 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.  

For more information, visit www.rpii.ie or call Freefone 1800 300 600.

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