Twenty per cent of homes tested in Mayo for radon, after a local awareness campaign on the issue, have been shown to have unacceptable levels of the cancer causing gas.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA ) launched the awareness campaign in Mayo in November because the county is deemed to be a ‘high risk’ area for radon.
Today (Friday April 10 ) the agency said some 400 homes have been tested since November and 80 were found to have unacceptable levels of radon.
Radon is a naturally occuring radioactive gas which can accumulate to dangerous levels in houses built on certain types of rock and soil.
Some of the areas where homes are showing high levels of radon are Ballina, Crossmolina, Claremorris, Kiltimagh and Castlebar.
Radon is linked to up to 250 lung cancer cases in Ireland each year and is the second highest cause of lung cancer after smoking.
Stephanie Long, senior scientist, with the EPA, said radon is the highest health risk from radiation in Ireland.
“The families that have had their homes tested have done the right thing in addressing the radon problem,” said Ms Long.
“People need to take the radon test. Many families in Mayo are unaware that they may be exposed to high levels of this radioactive gas which is linked to lung cancer.
“The good news is that testing for radon and, in the event of a high reading, reducing the levels present, are both straightforward.”
A radon test usually costs about €50. The EPA said it could cost in the region of €850 to install an effective solution if high levels are found.
Detailed information on radon, the risks and how to get your home or workplace tested, as well as a list of test suppliers and how to reduce high levels is available at www.epa.ie/radiation or by calling Freefone 1800 300 600.