In Ireland the greatest health risk from radiation we face is from radon. Radon is a colourless, odourless and tasteless radioactive gas. Exposure to radon accounts for over half the total radiation dose received by the Irish population. It is a known carcinogen that causes lung cancer.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is formed by the radioactive decay of Uranium (U). Uranium is usually found in igneous rocks and soil, this means that certain areas of the country are at a greater risk from radon. Areas built on igneous rock, such as much of Co. Galway which is a granite area, have far higher radon levels.
To find out more about radon in Ireland and fin dout how to test your home please visit the EPA radon office.
Radon poses little threat when out in the open, problems only begin to arise when the gas is in a confined space such as your home or workplace. Radon is a small molecule which allows it to seep up through pores in building materials such as concrete and wood. To prevent radon entering our homes radon barriers are laid over the entire footprint of the building. These radon barriers are heavy duty plastic membranes that prevent the radon seeping into the home.
Radon is also a fairly soluble gas, this can cause problems with the quality of our water. Radon enters the water which may then travel long distances before being released again. This can be a problem in karst regions where the radon source may not be close to the point where the gas is released and therefore the residents of an area may be unaware of the potential risk.
Radon gas can be easily tested for and there are some straightforward solutions available to reduce the risk of radon gas in the home. By understanding the geology of an area we can better understand the distribution of radon.
To learn more about how the Geological Survey are measuring radon levels:
- visit the Tellus research page
- see also Tellus presentation