321 homes across Ireland recorded high levels of radon gas when they were tested last year, according to the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).
According to the RPII, almost 2,600 people in Ireland tested their home for the gas last year and in the worst case scenario, a house in the Castlegar area of Co Galway registered an average radon concentration of over 18 times the acceptable level.
Three other homes in counties Sligo and Kerry were identified with radon levels at ten times the acceptable level, while a further 24 homes across ten counties had levels between four and ten times the acceptable level of radon.
Radon, a radioactive gas released from the natural decay of elements in rocks and soil, is the second-biggest cause of lung cancer in Ireland. The gas is invisible and odourless and can only be detected through testing.
Although radon is present in almost all the air that we breathe, it is usually only present at very low levels. However, it can build up inside buildings if there is not enough ventilation.
RPII senior scientist David Fenton said that the latest data shows that the country “has a significant radon problem” and suggested that thousands of people are living with high levels of the gas in their homes.
The RPII has compiled a radon map on its website which shows high radon areas. Radon testing is done over a three-month period using detectors placed in two rooms of the home.