Local authorities in Ireland tested their social housing stock of 1,500 for levels of the cancer-causing gas, radon.

Carlow was found to have a particular problem with two homes in Borris experiencing extremely high levels of radon. Other homes were found to have many times the acceptable level of the gas.

Tenants will now be contacted by the local authorities for remedial work to be carried out.

Radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking and is linked to up to 200 lung cancer deaths each year.

The most recent data shows that Carlow has the fourth highest incidence of radon in Ireland with one in six of the tested homes found to be above the acceptable level.

However, only a small fraction of the approximate 17,000 households in the county have been tested to date.

Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government guidance specifies that all new homes, built since 1st July 1998, must be fitted with a standby radon sump which can be activated at a later stage to reduce any high radon concentrations subsequently found.

For homes built in High Radon Areas, the installation of a radon barrier as well as a standby radon sump is required.

Department of Environment minister, Mr Phil Hogan T.D, praised local authorities for being proactive in testing for radon and their action on dealing with the problem.

He said: “I would like to commend the Carlow Local Authorities for their very important work in this area.

“Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that originates from the decay of uranium in rocks and soils. It has no smell, colour or taste and can only be detected using special detectors. It can be fatal if not detected and remedied.

“I further commend the LAs involved for their undertaking to fix all LA homes with a radon problem.”

Private homeowners are also urged to check their properties for radon on the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland website.

Alison Brown

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