Deer Lodge: signs radon levels down

Indicative measurement survey suggests major improvement

Tadhg Evans

A radon measurement survey at the Deer Lodge Mental Health Unit in Killarney indicates that levels in 20 of the 21 points that were above the radon reference level in 2017 are now below that point, following recent re-mediation works at the facility.

Cormac Williams of the Psychiatric Nurses' Association Kerry has, however, expressed concern that one point remains over the 200 Bq/3 level, at 219 Bq/3, and that a number of others remain close to the reference level.

Cork Kerry Community Healthcare has stressed that the survey, which took place in November, is only an indication, and a three-month testing programme will now proceed.

Patients first moved into the €13 million 40-bed facility last summer. The HSE commissioned a three-month radon monitoring study immediately prior to this, through which 12 points in the building returned levels more than twice the reference level.

A €22,000 re-mediation process followed, which included measures such as the fitting of radon extraction fans and electrical works.

The HSE said that it was advised by the EPA and HSE Estates at all times that there was no immediate danger to staff or residents of the facility, adding that it was not aware of any issues in relation to raised radon levels within the facility prior to its opening. A meeting will be held new week with HSE Estates to address any staff queries.

"The EPA has reviewed the reading and we are now to proceed with the three-month testing programme so that we can review the post-re-mediation work readings with regard to the reference level of 200Bq/m3," Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Head of Mental Health Sinead Glennon said. The health and welfare of residents and staff of Deer Lodge continue to be our priority, and we are assured that the levels detected do not pose any immediate threat to the health of residents and staff in the unit."

The HSE has also confirmed that members of staff at Deer Lodge have raised concerns about an odour in an area of the facility. On foot of this, air-quality within the building is scheduled to be monitored next week.

Cormac Williams has called for independent architects and engineers to conduct an inspection in light of these concerns.