New EPA Radon maps show more homes and workplaces at risk from cancer-causing gas

  • The EPA has published new radon maps for Ireland that update the radon risk assessment for the country.
  • 170,000 homes in the country are now predicted to be at risk from radon.  This is an increase of 45,000 homes from the previous estimate in 2002.
  • Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas, and every year in Ireland 350 new lung cancer cases are linked to exposure to radon.
  • You can check if your home is at risk/the level of risk of your home through the new Eircode map search on the EPA website.
  • The EPA urges all householders and businesses, especially those in high radon areas, to test for radon.
  • Testing for radon is simple and fixing a radon problem will reduce the risk to your health from this radioactive gas.
New radon maps, launched by the Environmental Protection Agency today at the National Radon Forum, show an increased risk from radon in Ireland, with 170,000 homes now predicted to be at risk of radon exposure above the national reference level.  This is an increase of 45,000 homes, from the previous estimate in 2002.  The new maps update the radon risk assessment for the country and show that large parts of the country – particularly in Munster and Connaught – have been found to be at increased risk from radon.  The map is based on work completed by Trinity College Dublin, Geological Survey of Ireland and the Economic and Social Research Institute alongside the EPA.
Michéal Lehane, EPA Director, speaking at today’s National Radon Forum said:
“Radon is a serious public health hazard.  The new maps combine thousands of radon measurements, with detailed geological information, and are a significant revision of the previous map from 2002.  More importantly, the new maps make it easy for everyone to find out the radon risk in their local area using the eircode search on the EPA website.  We urge people to test for radon as this is the only way of protecting you and your family from this cancer-causing gas”.
Employers too have a responsibility to ensure that their employees are protected from exposure to this radioactive gas.
Yvonne Mullooly, Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), welcomed publication of the new radon maps saying:
“Employers in high radon areas are obliged to test their workplaces for radon.  The new maps enable them to clearly identify where they are legally obliged to test, so allows for targeting of resources in the areas where the risk from radon is highest.  The HSA will continue to support employers by providing information, and through our on-line risk assessment BeSMART tool www.BeSMART.ie.
 
Radon testing is simple and inexpensive and, where necessary, reducing high radon levels in a building is also straightforward.
The maps are now available on the EPA’s website  and are searchable by Eircode and by address.
Radon: Radon is a radioactive gas that originates from the decay of uranium in rocks and soils. Exposure to radon is linked in up to 350 cases of lung cancer in Ireland each year.  It has no smell, colour or taste and can only be detected using special detectors. Outdoors, radon quickly dilutes to very low concentrations, but when it enters an enclosed space, such as a house, workplace or other building, it can accumulate to unacceptably high concentrations.
High Radon Area
Some parts of the country are more at risk from radon than others.  These areas are called high radon areas.  This is an area where the EPA predicts that more than 10 per cent of dwellings will have radon concentrations above the national reference level.
Testing for radon
Radon measurement is simple and inexpensive and, if high radon levels are found, fixing radon problems is straightforward.  The EPA provides a list of registered radon measurement services.  The EPA also publishes a list of registered contractors who offer a radon remediation service if high levels are found.  The EPA radon team are also available to answer your queries at radon@epa.ie or 1800 300 600.
National Radon Control Strategy (NRCS): The NRCS is a cross-Government strategy led by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications and comprises representatives from other key Departments and Agencies.  The main goal of the NRCS is to reduce the number of radon related lung cancers in Ireland. The new maps were developed under the Government’s National Radon Control Strategy.  A key priority identified by the Strategy was to update the 2002 maps to allow for the knowledge of local geology to the better targeting of resources to those areas most at risk from radon.
National Radon Forum: Today’s National Radon Forum is the 16th in a series of annual forums. The forums provide an opportunity for those with a role to play in reducing the risk from radon in Ireland to review progress and to consider new strategies based on best international practice. The National Radon Forum brings together a broad range of stakeholders focused on addressing the radon problem in Ireland. At today’s Forum, attendees will hear from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Health and Safety Authority, the Economic and Social Research Institute and the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, on the actions must now be taken to reduce the risk from radon.

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