Eight homes in Sligo have been identified as having radon gas levels above the acceptable level in the past five months, according to figures released today by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).
One home in Tubercurry had more than seven times the acceptable level of radon with the occupants receiving a radiation dose equivalent to approximately five chest X-rays per day.
Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is directly linked to up to 200 lung cancer deaths each year.
Almost one in four homes measured in Sligo by the RPII has high levels of the radioactive gas.
Commenting on the findings, Ms Stephanie Long, Senior Scientist at the RPII said: “Only a small fraction of homes in Sligo have been tested for radon. Our research shows that, of those that have already tested, there is a large percentage with high radon levels and so we are urging homeowners to take the radon test.”
In the past five months, over 340 homes from across the country have been identified by the RPII as having high levels of radon. In Sligo, 44 tests for radon gas were completed in homes during that time and of these, eight were found to be above the acceptable level.
In addition to the home in Tubbercurry, the seven remaining homes had radon levels above and up to three times the acceptable level and were found in: Sligo Town (3), Ballisodare (1), Ballymote (1), Carraroe (1) and Tubbercurry (1).
“Tens of thousands of homeowners in Sligo have yet to test for radon and among them are many hundreds that are unknowingly living with a high risk to their family’s health. It is really important for people to test their home for radon as this is the only way of knowing if your family is exposed to this cancer-causing gas,” Ms Long concluded.
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 depending on which measurement company is chosen.
If a moderate radon level is found, improving indoor ventilation may reduce the level by up to half, the cost of which is low. For higher levels, a fan assisted sump can be installed which can reduce radon levels by over 90%.
An interactive map is available on the RPII’s website (www.rpii.ie), allowing anyone to search for their address or nearest town, to see whether their home or workplace is in a High Radon Area. For more information, Freefone 1800 300 600.