Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which originates from the decay of uranium, which is present in small quantities in all rocks and soils. It has no colour, taste or smell and can only be measured using special equipment. Radon is found in varying concentrations in all homes and indoor workplaces but in some circumstances it can build up to high concentrations.
Prolonged exposure to high levels of radon is known to increase the risk of developing lung cancer. Radon is linked to some 250 lung cancer cases each year in Ireland and the magnitude of the risk depends on the amount of radon present and the length of exposure.
The Government has, for many years now, committed significant resources to assessing the extent of the radon problem throughout the country and to increasing public awareness of the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to high radon concentrations. Following a merger with the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) in 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now responsible for this work on behalf of the Government.
The EPA has identified though its research that radon in the home accounts for 55% of the average annual radiation dosage of the Irish population.It is the long standing advice of the EPA that all homes and workplaces should be tested for radon.
When draught proofing or making houses more airtight, it is important to maintain recommended ventilation standards. Radon concentrations can increase in existing houses as a result of greater airtightness and it is therefore recommended to carry out a radon test after significant energy efficient measures have been taken. Further information on radon is available from the Environmental Protection Agency in their brochure "Radon in Homes” http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/radiation/radonhomesbrochure.html
Radon problems can be fixed easily, relatively inexpensively and usually without disruption to the household and there are a number of commercial companies offering a radon remediation service. As such, the presence of high radon levels should not be regarded as a deterrent to undertaking works aimed at improved energy efficiency.
For further information on radon or to arrange a radon test please see the EPA website http://www.epa.ie/radiation/ or contact the EPA on Freefone 1800 300 600