Were Being Exposed To More Radiation

Where Your Radiation Dose Comes From

IF YOU THOUGHT that the greatest radiation threat to you was Sellafield or nuclear power stations abroad, you’d be wrong.  Radon is far more of a risk to people in Ireland. The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) said that less than 1 per cent of the average radiation dose is due to exposure to artificial sources such as Sellafield and Chernobyl.

Between 2008 and 2014, the annual exposure for people in Ireland has slightly increased, from 3,950 to 4,037.

Notably, the dose from radon has dropped slightly, while thoron in homes has risen.


Irish people’s exposure to radiation has been quantified in a report published today by the RPII, which looked at all sources of radiation in the Irish environment and calculated the average annual dose to the population. Natural sources of radioactivity, such as radon, account for 86% of all exposure, while man-made sources contribute approximately 14%. This latter category is dominated by the “beneficial use” of radiation in medicine.

Dr Ann McGarry, Chief Executive of the RPII, said:

The assessment clearly identifies radon as the primary source of radiation exposure in Ireland. Our radiation dose is high compared to other European countries because of the high levels of radon in this country and some families in Ireland are exposed to extremely high radiation doses in their homes. She explained that exposure to radon is also one of the few sources which can be reduced.


Radon is the principal source of radiation exposure to the Irish population, contributing over 55% to the average radiation dose. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking. It is linked to up to 250 lung cancer cases per year in Ireland. Most of the radiation dose from radon is received in people’s homes, but also workplaces. Other sources of radiation, such as fallout from nuclear accidents and weapons tests, or discharges of nuclear or radioactive waste to the environment, remain at very low levels.