Dáil Éireann - Volume 632 - 27 February, 2007

Written Answers. - Radon Gas Awareness.

Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of money spent in 2006 in highlighting public awareness of radon and on improving information to householders and employers in order to enable and encourage them to address monitoring or remedial requirements effectively and economically. [7342/07]

  Mr. Roche: Over the years, the Government, largely through the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII), has committed significant resources to assessing the [857] incidence of radon throughout the country and highlighting public awareness of radon and the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to high concentrations.

The RPII continues to actively promote public awareness of radon and to encourage householders and employers to have their homes and workplaces tested for radon and to undertake radon remediation works where necessary. In this regard, the RPII’s activities include:

Producing and publishing information brochures and documents in relation to radon;

Publishing reports on radon;

Issuing press releases and giving radio and TV interviews;

Undertaking a series of nationwide public information seminars, or roadshows, on the dangers of radon which are targeted at selected high radon areas;

Setting up information stands at public events, for example, the National Ploughing Championship;

Organising the National Radon Forum, of which the fifth of these took place in Galway in November 2006;

Producing a radio advertisement for use on local radio in High Radon Areas.

In addition, the RPII publishes detailed information about radon on its website. It should be noted that the number of website hits for the RPII has grown over the last number of years as both the public and employers increasingly use websites to garner more information on matters such as radon.

The actual cost to the RPII of these activities is not separately quantified in their accounts. However, the RPII would estimate expenditure on these activities in 2006 at approximately €40,000.

I understand recent research commissioned by the RPII has found that 75% of the general population are aware of radon. In addition, over the past two years, there has been a significant increase in the number of radon measurements undertaken by householders compared with previous years.

In addition to activities undertaken by the RPII, my Department has also undertaken a number of initiatives to promote further awareness of radon among the general public and for tackling the radon problem. My Department has published a booklet entitled Radon in Existing Buildings — Corrective Options advising designers, builders and home owners on remediation options for reducing radon in existing houses to, or below, the national reference level of 200 Bq/m3. In addition, up-graded building regulations, introduced in June 1997 by my Department, require all new houses commencing construction on or after 1 July 1998 to incorporate [858] radon protection measures. My Department published an updated edition of its Technical Guidance Document C on Part C of the Building Regulations (Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture) incorporating enhanced radon prevention measures for new buildings commencing construction on or after 1 April 2005. This new guidance document is aimed at ensuring that the 1997 radon protection measures are carried out more effectively.

Considerable resources are therefore being expended by Government and the RPII on promoting public awareness of radon and to addressing the radon problem. Both the RPII and my Department will continue to use all appropriate opportunities to raise public awareness on this issue.