Radon is still the main source of radiation exposure for the Irish public, say EPA and HIQA.

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The Environmental Protection Agency and the Health Information Quality Authority have released a new assessment of the average radiation doses the Irish population are exposed to. The Ionising Radiation – National Dose Report details the levels of radiation experienced by the Irish population over the past 5 years from the air we breathe, medical exposures, diet, and environmental exposures.  

A previous assessment was carried out in 2014 and the current assessment revealed that levels of radiation have remained relatively the same as they were a decade ago. According to the current report almost 99% of radiation comes from natural sources and medical exposure. The assessment also found that the radioactive gas Radon in indoor air accounts for nearly 60% of the average annual dose. Radon is a naturally occurring gas, but these levels are causing concern as it is among the most major causes of lung cancer  

Dr Michael Lehane, Director of the EPA said: “Radon is the largest contributor to radiation dose in Ireland. If there is a high radon level in your home, it is exposing you and your family to unnecessary radiation. The good news is that radon is easy to test for and solutions are available to reduce high levels where necessary. When building a house, it is critical to seal the base of the building to prevent radon from getting into your house in the first place. For existing houses, we urge people to test for radon, and remediate, if necessary, as this is the only way of protecting you and your family from this cancer-causing gas. 

As part of the report HIQA reviewed radiation from medical sources. Radiation caused by medical sources was found to have decreased due to improvements in the overall exposure of patients to radiation and increased access to new medical imaging technology.  

HIQA’s Director of Healthcare Regulation, Seán Egan said: “It is encouraging to see the decrease in amounts of ionising radiation received from medical exposures over the past 10 years. Since HIQA began regulating ionising radiation facilities in 2019, we have seen increased compliance with the regulations year-on-year. This means that services are considering how best to use equipment to meet the intended diagnostic or treatment goal while keeping exposure of the patient as low as possible, reducing the risk of harm to patients. We will continue to engage with services to ensure that this good practice continues.” 

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