LIFFORD has the highest levels of radon gas in Donegal with one house recording levels 17 times higher than is considered safe.
This week the Chronicle spoke to Alison Dowdall from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about radon levels and areas that are considered at high risk.
Some 1,800 householders living in Donegal have had their homes tested so far for radon and one in 20 of these were found to have high levels of the gas.
The highest reading of 3,400 Bq/m3 (Becquerel per cubic metre) was recorded in Lifford which is way above the acceptable level of 200 Bq/m3. A radon reading of 3,400 Bq/m3 is the equivalent of getting 12 chest x-rays everyday.
As well as Lifford the EPA has found that Letterkenny, Ballyshannon and areas of Inishowen are also areas with high levels of the dangerous gas.
Research by the agency has found that of the homes tested in Donegal two were found to have readings of over 800 Bq/m3, 90 had readings between 200 and 799 Bq/m3 and 1,689 had acceptable levels below 200.
Last Thursday was European Radon Day which has prompted the EPA to make a fresh appeal to householders to get their homes tested. Radon is invisible, colourless and odourless – and causes around 300 cases of lung cancer in Ireland every year.
Although Donegal has a lower rate of homes with high radon levels than elsewhere in the Republic Ms Dowdall said this doesn’t mean there are not dangerous levels in the county.
“It is a long term risk so it depends on the length of time you spend in a home with high radon levels and how high the level is. Smokers are more at risk than non smokers. The test is easy to do and not everyone is going to find they have high levels, but if they do then at least you will know that information. If they find there are high levels there are different ways to address that. It is important not to ignore radon.”
A radon test costs €60 and to find out more about testing and in the event of a high reading you can log onto the website or call 1800 300600.