DUBLIN, Ireland - The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a warning that the number of homes in Ireland at risk of radon, a cancer-causing gas linked to 350 new lung cancers each year, is far greater than previously thought.
The EPA's new radon maps predict that up to 170,000 homes are now at risk, up 45,000 from previous estimates made 20 years ago.
According to an EPA spokesman, nearly half a million Irish citizens live in homes potentially contaminated with radon.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. It is produced as a byproduct of uranium decay in rocks and soils.
If we inhale enough of it over time, it can damage DNA in our lungs and increase our risk of lung cancer.
It is linked to 350 new lung cancer cases each year, with smokers being at a much higher risk.
The Environmental Protection Agency has published an updated radon risk map for the entire country for the first time in 20 years, collaborating with Trinity College, the Geological Society of Ireland, and the ESRI.
It reveals that 170,000 homes are in high-radon areas and may be at risk from this radioactive gas.
This represents a 45,000-home increase since 2002 when this analysis was last performed.