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RadonIreland.com

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is invisible, odourless and tasteless, and can only be detected using special equipment.

Where does it come from?

Radon comes from the radioactive decay of uranium, which is present in small quantities in all rocks and soils. Because it is a gas, it can move freely through the ground enabling it to enter the atmosphere or seep into buildings.

What is the health risk associated with radon?

Radon is a carcinogen, in the same group as tobacco smoke and asbestos.
Long-term exposure to high levels of radon can irradiate lung tissue and increase the risk of lung cancer.

How serious is the risk?

The magnitude of the risk depends on the quantity of radon inhaled and the length of exposure. Smokers exposed to high levels of radon are at greater risk from lung cancer than non-smokers. Radon-linked lung cancer accounts for 150-200 deaths each year in Ireland.

Does radon cause any other illnesses?

There is no current scientific evidence linking radon exposure with other forms of cancer, or other respiratory illnesses.

How can I find out if my home has a high radon level?

The RPII has conducted a National Radon Survey (NRS) to find out which regions are most at risk from radon. These parts of the country are called High Radon Areas. Although this type of survey is useful as a general guide, the only way to find out if a specific house has a high level of radon is to test it.

How is a radon measurement carried out in a home?

A radon measurement is carried out entirely by post.  First, the householder is sent two radon detectors. To measure the radon levels, you simply place one of the detectors in an occupied bedroom, and the second detector in the main living area.

How long does a measurement take?

We  recommend that you leave the detectors in place for a minimum period of three months. This is because radon levels fluctuate with time. A reliable measurement will only be obtained over a three month or greater period.

What do I do after the detectors have been in place for at least three months?

Simply send back the radon detectors by post to us, where we will analyse them and inform you of the results. If necessary, we will also advise you as to how to reduce the radon level in your house.

What information will I be given?

Our test report will include the measurement period, the quantity of radon gas measured at both detectors’ locations, and the seasonally corrected annual average radon concentration for the whole house. It will also include our recommendations if any further action is required.

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Our test report will include the measurement period, the quantity of radon gas measured at both detectors’ locations, and the seasonally corrected annual average radon concentration for the whole house. It will also include our recommendations if any further action is required.

What is the unit of a radon measurement?

Radon is measured in becquerels per cubic metre of air (Bq/m3).The becquerel is a unit of radioactivity, and corresponds to one radioactive disintegration per second.

What is the typical radon level in an Irish house?

Radon levels vary widely from area to area and even from house to house. Various factors such as the geology, the construction type of the house and the ventilation all influence the amount of radon entering into a building. The average indoor radon level in Irish homes is 89 Bq/m3, but levels up to 550 times higher have been recorded.

Are the radon detectors radioactive?

No. The detectors are made of harmless materials, and emit no radiation. They do not require any electrical connections. Nor do they make any noise.

Can unoccupied houses be tested for radon?

Yes. However, once a house becomes occupied, the radon level can change as a result of occupants opening doors and windows etc. So we recommend that measurements are carried out when the house is occupied.

If my neighbour has had a radon test carried out, will my home have the same radon level?

No. Radon levels can vary widely from house to house, even when they are built close to each other on the same type of soil. The only way of knowing the radon level in your home is to have your own house tested.

Can I carry out an instant test to check the radon level?

Yes, but this will not provide a reliable measurement of the average radon level. Radon levels vary according to climatic and other environmental factors. To obtain a reliable measurement, it is necessary to measure radon over a period of at least three months.

How does radon enter workplaces?

Radon comes from the ground and gets into buildings mainly through cracks in floors or gaps around pipes or cables. As the pressure inside a building is slightly lower than the pressure outdoors, radon will be drawn from the ground into the building. This phenomenon is known as pressure-driven flow.

Which workplaces are at risk?

All workplaces can be at risk from radon. Workplaces at higher risk tend to be those located in High Radon Areas. Underground workplaces such as mines and show caves are also at higher risk of increased radon levels, wherever their location might be.

What is a High Radon Area?

A High Radon Area is an area in which the RPII has predicted that 10 per cent or more of the buildings are likely to have radon levels above the acceptable level.

Where are the High Radon Areas in Ireland?

The RPII has produced radon maps and statistics for each county. Research has revealed that almost one third of Ireland is affected by high radon levels, with the South East and the West being of particular concern. However, high radon levels can exist in every part of the country.

Why are some areas more affected than others?

The distribution of radon is largely determined by the geology. Certain types of rock and deposits - including some granites, limestone and shales – tend to be associated with high radon emissions, for various and different reasons.

Are outdoor workplaces affected by radon?

Radon which is dispersed into the open air is generally diluted to harmless concentrations. If you work in outdoor construction, fishing, agriculture, transport, or in any other non-enclosed workplace, you are unlikely to be affected by radon.

Can radon affect upper floors?

Because radon enters a building from the ground, the worst affected workspaces are likely to be at basement and ground floor levels, with a diminishing concentration the higher you ascend. Radon testing is normally conducted as near to the ground level as possible. If radon concentrations at ground floor level are within acceptable limits, upper floors of the same building should also be safe.

What if I suspect my workplace may be affected by radon?

If you are an employer, you should have the radon levels measured in your workplace by an approved measurement workplace.. If you are a worker, you should raise your concerns with your employer and/or trade union.

Can high radon levels be reduced?

Harmful radon concentrations can be reduced to safe levels by carrying out remedial work on the affected building. This might include measures such as improving the ventilation or installing an extraction system (radon sumps).

At what radon concentration should remedial work be undertaken?

The RPII recommends remediating all workplaces which have a radon measurement above the national Reference Level of 400 Bq/m3. All domestic properties need to be remediated if above the national Refernce Level od 200 Bq/m3.