More than 50 homes in Tipperary found with high levels of cancer-causing radon gas

More than ten per cent of Tipperary homes recently tested for radon were found to have high levels of the cancer-causing gas according to figures released by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).

More than ten per cent of Tipperary homes recently tested for radon were found to have high levels of the cancer-causing gas according to figures released by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).

Over 300 homes from across the country have been identified by the RPII as having high levels of radon in the last seven months. Nationally, radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is directly linked to up to 200 lung cancer deaths each year.

In Tipperary, 502 tests for radon gas were completed in homes between June 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011 following a comprehensive awareness campaign carried out by the RPII in the south of the county in May 2011. Of the 502 homes tested, 54 were above the acceptable level of 200 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3).

One home in Clonmel had more than four times the acceptable level with a reading in excess of 800 Bq/m3.

The remaining 53 homes had readings above and up to four times the acceptable level and were found in: Clonmel (24), Cahir (13), Carrick On Suir (11), Ardfinnan (1), Ballina (1), Cashel (1), Clogheen (1) and Fethard (1)

Commenting on the findings, Mr David Fenton, Senior Scientist at the RPII said: “These figures show that South Tipperary has a significant radon problem. Our research indicates there are hundreds more homes across the county with high levels of radon gas. To date, only a very small proportion of these homes have been identified. Exposure to high radon levels causes lung cancer and many people are unknowingly living with very high levels in their homes. The only way people will know if it is in their homes is by testing.”

Measuring for radon and, in the event of a high reading, reducing the levels present 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, 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 average cost of this work is €1,100 with annual running costs of approximately €90.