Wednesday, 4 October 2006
Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Question 173: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the fact that elderly people who are vulnerable to radon gas levels in their homes which are above safe levels are in all likelihood those not in a position, financially, to carry out remediation works to their home; his further views on introducing a radon remediation grant scheme for householders with elderly people and those dependent on social welfare eligible for grant aid; and if he will discuss the introduction of the grant scheme with the Department of Finance during the Estimates process. [30928/06]
The Government, largely through the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII), has, for many years now, committed significant resources to assessing the extent of the radon problem throughout the country and to highlighting public awareness of radon and the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to high radon concentrations. Householders, particularly those in high radon areas, are constantly encouraged to have their homes tested for radon and to undertake radon remediation works where necessary.
As stated in reply to previous Questions, most recently Questions Nos. 82 and 98 of 13 June 2006, increasing the awareness of the public is considered to be a more effective approach than the provision of State financial assistance schemes to householders for radon testing of their homes or for radon remediation works. Such schemes of assistance are not operated by the majority of EU Member States. It would be difficult for a demand led scheme of domestic radon grants to ensure appropriate and cost effective targeting of remedial action. Furthermore, such a scheme could require very significant public expenditure and administrative resources.
I should point out that the testing of houses for radon is a relatively straightforward, non-invasive and inexpensive (approximately €50) process, and that in many situations, relatively straightforward and inexpensive remediation measures, such as improved ventilation, can be effective in reducing radon concentration levels.
Government efforts and resources, together with those of the RPII, will continue to focus on highlighting public awareness of radon and on improving information to householders so as to enable and encourage them to address monitoring or remedial requirements effectively and economically.