Fifteen per cent of Mayo 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 ).
Some 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 Mayo, 149 tests for radon gas were completed in homes between June 1 2011 and December 31 2011. Of these, 23 were above the acceptable level of 200 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3 ).
One home in Ballina had more than five times the acceptable level with a reading in excess of 1000 Bq/m3. The remaining 22 homes had readings above the acceptable level and were found in: Claremorris (eight ), Ballina (five ), Castlebar (three ), Ballaghaderreen (one ), Ballinrobe (one ), Killala (one ), Kiltimagh (one ), Shrule (one ), and Westport (one ).
Commenting on the findings David Fenton, senior scientist at the RPII, said: “These figures show that Mayo 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.
An interactive map is available on the RPII’s website (www.rpii.ie ). Information can also be obtained by phoning 1800 300 600.