Aug 4 2011 By Jackie Grant, Galloway News
A NEW map shows the Stewartry has the region’s highest levels of a potentially deadly natural gas that can cause lung cancer.
Improved digital techniques have helped the Health Protection Agency and British Geological Survey reveal the extent of radon hotspots.
The radioactive gas seeps up from the ground and is the second largest cause of lung cancer in the UK.
Two years ago, the HPA produced a radon map of Scotland, charting areas most likely to be affected by the gas, based on measurements in homes.
Since then, agency staff have worked closely with the BGS to produce a more accurate picture.
The new technique has led HPA scientists to estimate that between 2,000 and 5,000 homes could have radon above the action level where work would be recommended to protect occupants – a rise on the numbers predicted in the 2009 map. Dr John Cooper, of the HPA, said: "This new map will give householders the best available information to determine if they should test their home for radon.
"We know radon exposure leads to more than 1,000 lung cancer deaths in the UK each year. However, there are practical measures that can be taken to cut the level of exposure."
Residents in parts of Dumfries and Galloway are being offered free radon tests in a project funded by the Scottish Government.
The council, the HPA and NHS Dumfries and Galloway are working together following research highlighting that approximately 80 homes in the south-west are most likely to have a high radon level.
If readings are high, the measures which can be taken to reduce levels include improving under-floor ventilation or installing a pump to expel the gas back into the atmosphere.
Castle Douglas, Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbright and Langholm appear to have the highest levels of radon in Dumfries and Galloway.
To find out the levels of radon in your area log on to www.hpa.org.uk.