Green Party launch a Bill to cut the impact of cancer-causing radon gas and improve rental housing standards

The Green Party today launch their Healthy Homes Bill which will require landlords to test their property for radon gas and to take action if the deadly gas is found. 

At present more people die every year from lung cancer associated with radon gas than do from road traffic collisions. 

Testing for the gas costs less than €50 and dealing with it costs less than an average month’s rent (<€1,000). 

This Bill is a simple, cheap and effective way of reducing people’s exposure to this odourless, invisible, dangerous gas. 

Exposure to radon causes lung cancer and is blamed for around 250 deaths in Ireland every year. 

The Bill also requires the Government to introduce regulations to require a minimum energy standard in rented homes, which is to be phased in over time. 

Last year through an AIE request local Architect and Green Party Candidate for Athlone discovered a lack of testing in council owned housing in Longford. Despite some areas of Longford being designated as ‘high risk’ areas on radon maps, the Council has only carried out radon testing on around 3% (73/2,000) of Council houses. There was no clear figures given for the percentage of homes tested in Westmeath. 

Louise Heavin, local Architect from Athlone and Green Party local election candidate, said: 

We do a lot in new house construction to stop radon entering our homes. It’s time now for landloardsto do the same and ensure that all buildings are made safer for occupation.

 Sadly lung cancer is often only caught at an advanced stage. A key part of changing that is knowing that you are at risk.

“This bill will let people know that they are at risk and give them the power to change it. This, frankly, is a measure that is long overdue.”

Catherin Martin TD, Green Party Deputy Leader, said: 

“The tragedy with radon gas is that in many cases the first time a family finds out it is a problem in their house is when someone gets a lung cancer diagnosis. 

“Awareness of the dangers of radon and knowing if you are living in a home with high radon concentrations is key in decreasing the number of lung cancer deaths each year linked to domestic exposure to radon. That is why we need to change this and make testing for radon mandatory for all rented homes now.” 

“The tests cost less than €50 and they could save someone’s life. And if the gas is found then fixing it often costs less than a month’s rent. 

The bill also requires the Minister for Housing to make regulations to impose efficiency standards, such as a minimum BER, in the rental housing sector. 

Eamon Ryan TD, Green Party Leader, said:

“Everyone agrees we need to upgrade our housing stock to protect people’s health, save on fuel bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

“Putting a minimum standard on rental properties is important because, unlike owner-occupied houses, the landlord doesn’t directly benefit from improving the energy efficiency of the house. Such standards have recently been introduced in the UK. We must ensure that the transition to a low carbon housing stock includes everyone, including tenants. While this will reduce our emissions and save people money, its biggest impact will be to improve public health and reduce the burden of disease caused by poorlyinsulated houses and apartments.”

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