HIGH RISK RADON LEVELS FOUND IN AVONDHU AREA COUNCIL HOMES HIGH RISK RADON LEVELS FOUND IN AVONDHU AREA COUNCIL HOMES
Cork County Council have revealed that a number of council homes in North Cork, including Mitchelstown, Castletownroche and Glanworth, have four times the acceptable level of a cancer-causing gas following a recent survey.
The survey was undertaken by the county council following advice from the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) that North Cork had a particular problem with the dangerous radon gas, as the RPII had found very high radon levels in the Mallow area.Almost 400 Cork County Council tenants have been circulated with the results of the radon survey undertaken by the council of its housing stock in the Northern Division.
In a press release last week Cork County Council said that a comprehensive information pack prepared by the housing section in the Northern Division in consultation with the HSE Department of Public Health and the RPII has also been circulated to council tenants.
The safe level of radon gas in any enclosed area as determined by RPII is 200 becquerels per cubic metre. Of the 391 North Cork sites tested by the council, 189 show levels below 200 Bq/m3, 92 show inconclusive results and will be retested over the coming months, 84 show levels between 200 and 800 Bq/m3 and 26 of the council houses tested show levels in excess of 800 Bq/m3.
The find is the second known discovery of dangerous levels of radon gas in The Avondhu region in the past four months. Last April concerns over the levels of radon in the area were raised following the discovery at a house in Ballyporeen which had a reading well over the acceptable levels of the gas. The house in Ballyporeen had a peak reading in one room of 9,000 Bq/m3 which is 45 times the acceptable level of 200 Bq/m3. The news drew mixed reactions from local officials.
Fine Gael county Councillor Liam O’Doherty praised the council for testing the houses for the problem.
“As chairman of the Northern Division I welcome the initiative shown by Cork County Council in being the first local authority in the country to test their houses for this gas and I hope other councils in Ireland will follow their example.”
Cllr O’Doherty said there was no need for immediate panic because of the discovery. “There is no need to create huge alarm, these are second generation houses. People’s homes have not just changed overnight.”
However he added that it was important that the Government intervene. “I hope our friends in the Oireachtas will help relieve Cork County Council of the financial burden this testing and subsequent work presents. I hope our Green Minister (Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley) will give us a dig out.”
Cllr O’Doherty added that private house owners should test their homes if concerned, but only to do so with a company approved by the RPII. The tests are hassle-free, can be done by post and cost just €56. Fianna Fail county Councillor Frank O’Flynn said that the recent revelations were “disturbing news” for local people.
“All county council homes in the Fermoy-Mitchelstown area should be checked immediately, and if high readings are recorded the problems should be rectified as soon as possible.
“I believe Cork County Council should do information bulletins for private houses, to instruct members of the public as to the ways and means of having their property checked out. There needs to be public information on rectifying and safe guarding for new houses and extensions and the putting in place of proper systems to relieve the problem,” Cllr O’Flynn added.
Houses found to have high levels of radon can be remediated effectively by installation of fan-driven ventilation systems, which extract radon from the building. A council press release claimed that remedial works will be carried out on the affected homes by the council “as soon as practical.”
Excess radon levels can pose an increased risk, predominantly for smokers, but that risk can be remediated promptly by ventilation, from simply opening downstairs windows and doors immediately, to permanent correction by installation of a fan system. Because smoking aggravates risk markedly, included in the council’s information sheet is contact information on smoking cessation.
RADON GAS STUDY FOR FERMOY. Fermoy is following in the footsteps of all other local authorities that have been carrying out radon gas studies, and is planning to have its own council housing inspected for the killer gas.
The investigation follows finds in the surrounding area which has identified radon gas levels up to 15 times higher than the acceptable levels. The town council plans to write to all its council housing tenants who have been living in houses built before the radon gas barriers were introduced ten years ago.
Confronted with the time sensitivity of the matter, Fermoy Town Mayor Tadhg O’Donovan stated, “It depends on the cooperation of the tenants involved.” He also stated, “because of the importance and risk undertaken we hope that all residents and owners of houses built pre 1998 would contemplate taking the exercise”, as the council only carries a small fraction of the entire housing population.
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 identified 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 unacceptably high concentrations. This gives rise to a radiation dose, which may cause lung cancer.
The gas is a Class-1 carcinogen. Long-term exposure to radon increases the risk of lung cancer. Based on current knowledge it is estimated that in Ireland, for the population as a whole, a lifetime exposure (i.e. 70 yrs) to radon in the home at the Reference Level of 200 Bq/m3 carries a risk of about 1 in 50 of contracting fatal lung cancer.
This is approximately twice the risk of death in a road accident. Radon is linked to approximately 200 lung cancer deaths in Ireland every year. For people who smoke, the risk from radon is considerably greater than for people who never smoked.
Thursday 7th August 7:30pm