The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII ) is again urging the people of Galway to test their homes for radon, a radioactive gas which is linked to up to 200 lung cancer deaths each year in Ireland.
More than 1,300 homeowners have undertaken the radon test since the beginning of October this year following an intensive awareness campaign of the dangers of exposure to the radioactive gas. These are in addition to the 5,630 homes previously tested by the RPII in the county. However, the total number tested to date is only a small fraction of the 78,000 occupied homes in Galway.
Galway has one of the highest incidences of radon in homes in the country where more than one in five homes, tested by the RPII, have been found to have radon levels in excess of the acceptable level.
Radon is prevalent in homes across the county and the RPII predicts that in some areas every second home could have high levels. The area west of Tuam as far as Schrule and bounded by and including Kilconly to the north and Belcare to the south, has the highest radon risk in Ireland, with more than 50 per cent of homes predicted to be above the acceptable level.
The radon risk south of Belclare remains very high. In the areas around Claregalway, Castlegar, Oranmore and large parts of Galway city, such as Renmore, Lough Atalia, Terryland and city centre areas, over 40 per cent of homes could have high radon levels.
Stephanie Long, senior scientist with the RPII, said: “The families that have tested have taken the necessary first step in addressing this problem. Many thousands of families in Galway are completely unaware that they may be exposed to this colourless, odourless and tasteless radioactive gas.”
“We know that exposure to high levels of radon in your home can lead to lung cancer. The only way to know if you have a high radon level in your home is to take the radon test. If high levels are found it is straightforward to reduce them. I would urge people to protect themselves by taking the radon test,” she added.
Testing for radon and, in the event of a high reading, reducing the levels present are both relatively inexpensive. To test for radon, one radon detector is placed in a bedroom and a second in a living room. The detectors are small and are sent and returned by post. There is no need for anyone to visit your home to make the test. A radon test is available from the RPII and other test suppliers and costs about €50. Detailed information on radon, its risks, how to get your home or workplace tested, a list of test suppliers and how to reduce high levels, if present, is available on the RPII’s website www.rpii.ie or on Freefone 1800 300 600.