Inter-agency group to tackle lung cancers caused by radon

AN inter-agency group has been set up to develop a national strategy to reduce the number of cases of lung cancer from radon gas.

Inter-agency group to tackle lung cancers caused by radon

Environment Minister Phil Hogan announced the establishment of the group at the opening day of the National Radon Forum in Dublin.

The forum heard experts from the HSE, the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority and the RPII on different aspects of the issue.

Nationally, radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is directly linked to about 200 lung cancer deaths each year.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that originates from the decay of uranium in rocks and soils. It has no smell, colour or taste and can only be detected using special detectors.

Outdoors, radon quickly dilutes to harmless concentrations, but when it enters an enclosed space, such as a house or other building, it can accumulate to dangerously high concentrations.

Chief executive of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) Dr Ann McGarry welcomed the announcement, saying it will bring key experts in the area together to tackle the problem.

“We welcome the announcement by the minister. The establishment of this group bringing together experts from key departments and agencies, is crucial to addressing the radon problem in Ireland in a comprehensive and effective way,” she said.

The development of a radon control strategy for Ireland was recommended in the joint position statement issued last year by the RPII and the HSE.

Last June, figures from the RPII showed a Kerry house had recorded some of the highest concentrations of cancer-causing radioactive gas radon ever found in Europe.

The home, in the Castleisland area, had an average radon concentration of 37,000 Becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3), a staggering 185 times above the acceptable level.

The house was located just a few kilometres away from the highest ever reading in an Irish house of 49,000 Bq/m3 found in 2003. Occupants of this house developed lung cancer believed to be linked to the radon.

Testing at home

*Measuring for radon and reducing the levels are both easy to do.

*One radon detector is placed in a bedroom and a second in a living room for three months. They can be sent by post for analysis.

* Measurement cost is about €50.

* If a moderate level is found, improving indoor ventilation may reduce the level by up to half. For higher levels, a fan-assisted sump can reduce levels by over 90%.

* www.rpii.ie.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.