Council budgets have been and continue to be slashed and perhaps that's the reason why more is not being done to educate people on the risk Radon gas is posing to their health in the area of Newry, Mourne and Down. A recently published Government report includes the below map which starkly highlights the huge areas of the district that are potentially exposed to high levels of this naturally occurring radioactive gas.
While the UK Government recognises and highlights the role this gas plays in causing lung cancer the EPA in the U.S. goes further adding numbers and additional facts such as :
1. 21,000 deaths a year are linked to Radon gas in the U.S.
2. It's the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking
3. Radon can enter the home through the water supply as well as the soil
4. There is a risk of stomach cancer from ingesting water containing Radon and lung cancer from inhaling the gas carried in the water.
To help protect and educate the population it's time the council took another look at the Radon issue. With the U.S. Charging between $15 and $25 for a test kit the council should subsidise the extortionate UK Government charge of £50 for a kit and start supplying these to homes in the areas of greatest risk. Also publication of any council lead tests performed in the district on soil and water should be published clearly on the council websites with an option for a hard copy. Finally, support needs to be provided to those homes where the test comes back with a high risk result to help them put in place Radon reducing measures.
We are by no means the only area of NI affected by high levels of Radon and a further call must be made to the NI Assembly to control and educate on this matter both to reduce deaths as well as reduce the costs caused by illnesses to the already overstretched health service.