Tuesday, 5 December 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
526. Ms Harkin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on putting in place a radon grants scheme in view of the high concentration of radon here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41217/06]
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Roche): During the period 1992 to 1999, the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) carried out a nationwide survey of radon gas in domestic dwellings. The survey involved the measurement of radon in some 11,000 houses nationwide. Based on the results of this survey, the RPII estimated that some 91,000 houses nationally, equivalent to about 7% of the national housing stock, have radon concentration levels in excess of 200 Becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3). This is the National Reference Level adopted by Government in respect of houses, and is the level above which it is recommended that radon remediation works should be considered.
The RPII’s website —www.rpii.ie— contains a comprehensive map which shows the location of High Radon Areas throughout the country, i.e., areas where 10% or more of the houses are estimated to have radon levels in excess of the National reference Level. County radon maps and survey results can be viewed also on that web-site by clicking on the county by name. Of the approximately 30,000 houses tested to date by the RPII for radon, some 200, or about 1%, had radon concentrations in excess of 800 Bq/m3, a level considered by RPII as extremely high. Such householders are strongly urged by the RPII to undertake immediate radon remediation measures on their house.
The Government, largely through the RPII, has for many years now committed significant resources to assessing the extent of the radon problem throughout the country and to highlighting public awareness of radon and the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to high radon concentrations. In this connection, I would refer to the reply to Question No. 607 of 1 November 2006 in which I outlined the numerous initiatives undertaken by RPII and my Department. Householders, particularly those in high radon areas, have been strongly encouraged to have their homes tested for radon and to undertake radon remediation works where necessary.
On the issue of grant assistance, and as stated in my reply to previous questions, increasing the awareness of the public is considered to be a more effective approach than the provision of State financial assistance schemes to householders for radon testing of their homes or for radon remediation works. Such schemes of assistance are not operated by the majority of EU Member States. It would be difficult for a demand led scheme of domestic radon grants to ensure appropriate and cost effective targeting of remedial action. Furthermore, such a scheme could require very significant public expenditure and administrative resources.
As is clear from the above, considerable resources are being expended by Government on promoting public awareness of radon. Government efforts and resources, together with the RPII, will continue to focus on highlighting public awareness of radon and on improving information to householders and employers so as to enable and encourage them to address monitoring or remedial requirements effectively and economically.
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