Written Answers - Health and Safety Regulations.

Wednesday, 16 February 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 597 No. 6

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  256.  Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin  Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin   the number of primary and secondary schools in each county, that have been assessed for the presence of radon gas; the number of times these inspections take place; the number of primary and secondary schools in each county that have not been assessed for the presence of radon gas; the reason such inspections have not been taken place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5128/05]

  257.  Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin  Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin   the number of primary and secondary schools in each county that have radon concentrations above 200 Bq/m3; if remedial action has been conducted in such schools; the amount of funding allocated by her Department in each of the past five years for such work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5129/05]

Minister for Education and Science (Ms Hanafin): Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  I propose to take Questions Nos. 256 and 257 together.

My Department commissioned the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, RPII, in 1998 to commence a survey of radon levels in all primary and post primary schools. Over the course of the survey, 4,072 schools were invited to participate and radon surveys were subsequently completed in the 3,444 schools that responded. Of these, 307 schools had radon concentrations above the workplace reference level of 400 Bq/m3 and 898 had radon concentrations greater than 200 Bq/m3. The schools which did not participate in the original survey were invited to participate in a further survey carried out by the RPII in 2004. The results of this study were made available to my Department in December 2004. Of the schools surveyed 22 schools had radon concentrations above 400 Bq/m3 and 65 schools had levels greater than 200 Bq/m3. The reasons for non-participation in the original survey included failure to respond to the invitation letter, loss of detectors during the measurement period or inability to participate due to structural repairs being carried out in the school at the time.

Approximately 100 schools have not as yet completed a radon survey. My Department has written to the authorities of these schools reminding them that the health and safety of staff and pupils is a matter for the school authorities in the first instance and stressing the importance of the survey and of the need for schools to participate. The RPII is conducting a survey of these schools and will forward the results to my Department in due course.

[1860]The radon reference set for the workplace in the Radiological Protection Act 1991, Ionising Radiation Order 2000, S.I. 125 of 2000, is 400 Bq/m3. Notwithstanding the fact that the radon reference for workplaces is 400 Bq/m3, my Department issues grants to schools for the installation of suitable vents in classrooms where radon levels are between 200 Bq/m3 and 400 Bq/m3. Schools with levels above 400 Bq/m3 are advised to secure the services of a suitably qualified consultant architect or engineer to carry out all necessary remedial works. Such works are funded by my Department. Following completion of remediation works, post remediation measurements are carried out by the RPII to determine if the remediation has been effective. This process is ongoing and the RPII continues to carry out post remediation testing in schools. Funding under the programme for each of the last five years is as follows:

Year
2005 10,398 to date,
2004 608,473
2003 1,163,538
2002 1,273,111
2001 539,862
2000 273,364

The breakdown by county sought by the Deputy will be forwarded as soon as possible.


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