Written Answers. - Radon Gas Exposure.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

57 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health the dangers of exposure to radon gas; the degree to which research is available on the problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1010/94]

Jim Mitchell

Question:

68 Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health the proposals, if any, he has to issue any guidelines to families living in dwellings likely to have a high level of radon gas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1011/94]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 57 and 68 together.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. Long-term exposure to very high levels of radon in an enclosed area can be a contributory factor in increasing the risk of contracting lung cancer, particularly where other factors such as cigarette smoking are involved.

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland is the statutory body with responsibility for monitoring radiation in the State. The institute initiated a national geographically based radon survey in 1992 which will extend over a number of years. The survey is being carried out to assist in identifying areas at greatest risk of high indoor radon levels. This will involve radon measurements being taken in at least ten houses in each ten kilometre grid square across the country.

The Department of the Environment has published guidelines which give information to building designers and householders about measures they can take to reduce high radon levels.