Fifty-three homes in Mayo have been found to have high levels of cancer-causing radon gas so far this year, according to figures released by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is linked to up to 200 lung cancer deaths each year in Ireland.
In Mayo, a total of 407 homes were measured by the RPII for radon gas between January 1 and August 30 2010. Of these, 53 were above the acceptable level of 200 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3 ).
Four homes had more than four times the acceptable level with readings in excess of 800 Bq/m3; these were found in Charlestown, Castlebar, Claremorris, and Ballinrobe. The radiation dose to the occupants of the home with the highest levels were equivalent to receiving approximately four chest X-rays per day.
The remaining 49 results had readings of between 200 and 800 Bq/m3 and were found throughout the county: Balla (two ), Ballaghadereen (two ), Ballina (13 ), Ballindine (one ), Ballinrobe (two ), Ballyhaunis (three ), Castlebar (five ), Claremorris (10 ), Cong (one ), Crossmolina (one ), Foxford (two ), Hollymount (one ), Kilmaine (one ), Swinford (four ), and Westport (one ).
“Homeowners need to take this matter seriously and measure radon levels in their home,” said David Fenton, senior scientist at the RPII. “It doesn’t matter if you live in a new or old house, in a high or low radon risk area, or even if your home already has a radon barrier. The only way to make sure that you and your family are not at risk is to test.”
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. The RPII charge €56 (inc VAT ) for a test, prices vary from other test suppliers. Detailed information on radon, its risks, how to get your home or workplace tested, and how to reduce high levels is available on the RPII’s website www.rpii.ie or on Freefone 1800 300600.