Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which originates from the decay of uranium, which is present in small quantities in all rocks andsoils. It is has no colour, taste or smell and can only be measured using special equipment. Radon is found in varying concentrations in allhomes and indoor workplaces but in some circumstances it can build up to high concentrations.
Prolonged exposure to high levels of radon is known to increase the risk of developing lung cancer. Radon is linked to some 200 lung cancer deaths each year in Ireland and the magnitude of the risk depends on the amount of radon present and the length of exposure.
The Government, largely through the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland(RPII), has, for many years now, committed significant resources to assessing the extent of the radon problem throughout the country and to increasing public awareness of the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to high radon concentrations.
The RPII has identified though its research that radon in the home accounts for 56% of the average annual radiation dosage of the Irishpopulation. It is the long standing advice of the RPII that all homes and workplaces should be tested for radon.
When draughtproofing or making houses more airtight, it is important to maintain recommended ventilation standards. Radon concentrations can increase in existing houses as a result of greater airtightness and it is therefore recommended to carry out a radon test after significant energy efficient measures have been taken. Further information on radon is available from the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland in their brochure "Radon in Homes” http://www.rpii.ie/Your-Environment/Radon-and-your-environment/Radon-Fact-Sheet.aspx .
Radon problems can be fixed easily, relatively inexpensively and usually without disruption to household and there are a number of commercial companies offering a radon remediation service. As such, the presence of high radon levels should not be regarded as a deterrent to undertaking works aimed at improved energy efficiency.
For further information on radon or to arrange a radon test please see the RPII website http://www.rpii.ie or contact the RPII on Freefone 1800 300 600