I am aware the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland has made a submission to the Law Reform Commission advocating the inclusion of radon measurement in future legislation on house conveyancing. I am also aware of the institute's recently published findings to which the question refers. The RPII has also written to all the major banks, building societies and insurance companies on this matter. I will be interested in the outcome of these approaches when the groups in question have considered this issue.
It should be noted that mandatory radon certification for the sale of houses has not been policy to date and it is my understanding that it is not policy or practice in other jurisdictions. The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland recently issued a questionnaire on the issue and, while it did not receive comprehensive replies from all recipients, the response to date has been negative.
Carrying out necessary radon remediation works in respect of private houses would normally be a matter for the householder but it would be open to solicitors representing purchasers to make queries relating to the radon status of houses under purchase on behalf of their clients.
Over the years successive Government's, through the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, have committed significant resources to assessing the extent of the radon problem throughout the country and increasing public awareness of the issue. From 1992 to 1999, the institute carried out a national survey of radon in domestic dwellings aimed at assessing the extent of the radon problem in homes. The survey involved measurement of radon for a 12 month period in a random selection of homes in each 10 km x 10 km grid square of the country.
In February 2002 my Department 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. As Deputy Stagg will be aware, upgraded building regulations introduced in June 1997 require all new houses which commenced construction on or after 1 July 1998 to incorporate radon protection measures. My Department has recently published an updated edition of Technical Guidance Document C, TGD-D, on Part C of the building regulations that deal with site issues, incorporating enhanced radon prevention measures for new buildings commencing on or after 1 April 2005.
In recent months the institute has taken several initiatives to further heighten awareness of the radon issue. In November last year it hosted the third national radon forum in Dublin to raise awareness of radon as a health risk. Also in 2004 the organisation published a revised version of its booklet, Radon in Homes.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House.
It recently distributed an information poster on radon for display in doctors' surgeries, advising people to have their homes checked for radon. In February this year research on awareness of the institute was published which addressed a number of issues related to the organisation, including radon awareness. I understand this is the research to which the Deputy referred in this question.
The institute has also commenced a radon awareness campaign that will involve a series of nationwide public information seminars on the dangers of radon and will be targeted at selected high radon areas. The institute and my Department will continue to use all appropriate opportunities to raise public awareness of radon and encourage householders with radon concentrations above the reference level to undertake remediation works. I am satisfied the information is readily and regularly made available to the public. Ultimately, it is a matter for individual householders to assess the question of measurement and, where appropriate, remediation.