ONE in six homes tested in County Wexford have been found to have high levels of the cancercausing radioactive gas radon, which is linked to over 200 deaths each year in Ireland.
That's according to the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland whose figures show that much of Wexford is a High Radon Area. In particular, homes with high levels have consistently been found in the towns of Enniscorthy, Gorey, New Ross and Bunclody
This is the backdrop to an awareness drive by the RPII across County Wexford this week that includes two public meetings tomorrow ( Wednesday) at 2 p.m. in the Riverbank House Hotel, Wexford and at 7 p.m. in The Presentation Centre on Convent Road in Enniscorthy. Both events are free to attend and everyone is welcome.
Stressing the importance of testing, Stephanie Long, Senior Scientist at the RPII, said: 'Radon is a serious issue, particularly in Wexford. But it's easy to test and if your home has high levels it's relatively inexpensive to fix the problem. Because radon is invisible, odourless and tasteless, people cannot tell if they have high levels of the radioactive gas in their home without testing for it.
'Homeowners in Wexford need to take this matter very seriously and take the radon test to ensure that they and their families are not at risk.'
Ms Long says testing for the gas is easy. ' The test involves two radon detectors being placed in your home, one 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. A number of service providers provide a radon measurement service and he cost is around €50.' After that, the costs can vary, depending on the level of radon discovered.
'If radon reduction is required there are two straightforward methods which are most commonly used. If a moderate radon level is found, improving indoor ventilation may be sufficient and the cost of this is relatively low.
' If higher levels are found, a fan assisted sump can be installed which can reduce radon levels by over 90 per cent. The sump can be installed in a day by a contractor with little disruption to the home. The typical cost of this work is €1,100 with the fan costing approximately €90 per year to run,' says Ms Long.
An interactive map is available on the RPII's website (www.rpii.ie) so that anyone can search for their address or nearest town to see whether their home or workplace is in a High Radon Area.
Information can also be obtained by phoning the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland on Freefone 1800 300 600.