The ROI Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will test 1,400 homes for radon levels with a view to rolling out a grant scheme to remediate homes with unsafe levels of the carcinogenic gas, the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment announced today (April 27th 2018).

The Radon Testing and Remediation Survey will be allocated €70,000 to  undertake a survey in East Galway and Roscommon high risk areas.

The study will help inform the design of a new financial incentive scheme, and which may be provided for in future legislation, stated Minister Naughten.

The areas include Castlerea, Ballinsloes, Ballymoe, Loughrea, Tuam and Ballintober. 200 homes in each of the designated areas will be invited to test:

Grid square location % of homes predicted > 200 Bq/m3 Radon risk

category

No of homes invited to test
Castlerea (north) < 1% Low

 

200
Ballinasloe 1-5% 200
Castlerea (south) 5-10% 200
Total no of homes surveyed in low risk areas 600
Ballymoe 10-20% High

 

200
Loughrea 10-20% 200
Tuam >20% 200
Ballintober >20% 200
Total no of homes surveyed in high risk areas 800
Total 1,400

 

“From this Monday the 30th of April the EPA will write to householders inviting them to take part in the survey. If you receive this letter I would really encourage you to accept the invitation to test.  Householders will be invited to carry out a free radon test in their home and to complete a short questionnaire. The radon tests will begin in June and results will be back by September. If high radon levels are found, the householder will be offered a grant of 50% towards the cost of remediation work,” said Minister Naughten.

Despite a high level of awareness of radon (the most recent Irish data show awareness at 75 per cent), most people underestimate the seriousness or long-term health effects of radon exposure, with only one in four concerned about radon in their home.

Even when individuals are informed that their homes have high radon levels, remediation rates are low. The main barriers to action were found to be that people are “not convinced there is a risk” (35 per cent) and “concern about cost” (34 per cent).

The Radon Testing and Remediation Survey will assess the degree of uptake of radon testing and remediation in homes in high radon areas and adjacent lower risk areas.

“We have a particular problem in the Mid-West and West of the country with radon gas. The difficulty with radon gas is that it is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which originates from the decay of uranium in rocks and soils and is colourless, odourless and tasteless. People do not know that there is a build-up of radon in their homes. After smoking, it is the next biggest cause of lung cancer in this country and responsible for approximately five cases of lung cancer in Ireland every single week,” added Minister Naughten.

The study has three main aims confirmed the Minister:

  • to establish if offering financial assistance with remediation in the event of a high indoor radon measurement increases the willingness of homeowners to test for radon;
  • to estimate the proportion of homeowners who would avail of assistance to remediate in the event of a high test, and consequently, to provide an estimate of the cost of providing such a remediation grant; and
  • to establish if either of items 1 or 2 above depend on whether the homeowner is in an already defined high radon area.

The EPA can be contacted on radon@epa.ie or tel. 1800 300 600

List of areas invited to test updated 09/05/2018