A government body issued a warning today that thousands of people in Ireland are being exposed to potentially lethal doses of radiation.
The warning issued by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) came after a house in Kerry was discovered to contain 40- fold the acceptable level of the deadly radioactive and cancer-causing gas, Radon.
It is categorized as a Class One carcinogen and has been linked to 200 lung cancer deaths in Ireland every year. For people who are or were smokers, the risk from radon is significantly higher than for people who have never smoked.
Radon is naturally-occurring and originates from the decay of uranium in rocks and sols. It is devoid of color, odor or taste.
Chief executive of the RPII, Dr Ann McGarry said that an estimate of 91,000 homes in Ireland has increased levels of Radon but only 3,900 have been identified.
People are receiving radiation doses that would not be tolerated by workers in Sellafield nuclear plant and it is unacceptable that they may be exposed to such dangerous levels, she said.
The house in Kerry was tested and found to have the third highest concentration of radon gas recorded to date in a home in Ireland and the dose received by the householders is analyzed to be equivalent to being exposed to 27 chest X-rays per day or 10,000 per year.
The RPII said immediate action had been taken by having a radon sump installed underneath the house, to prevent the accumulation of high levels of radon.
The identification of this house in Kerry is a further reminder that many people are living with very dangerous levels of radiation in their homes, Dr McGarry said.
It is unnecessary for members of the public to put themselves at risk from radon. Homeowners need to take this matter seriously and measure radon levels in their homes to ensure that they and their families are not at risk, she added.
A set of maps, produced by the RPII, showing nearly one-third of the country as high radon area, is available on its website www.rpii.
A test for radon in houses can be carried out by placing detectors in a bedroom and living room for a period of three months. The detection kit can be purchased for 50 euro from the RPII, and can be returned by post for analysis.