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Radon Still Main Source Of Radiation Exposure For Irish Public.

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

  • The ‘Ionising Radiation – National Dose Report’ assessed the radiation exposure received from the air we breathe, medical exposures, our diet and exposure to radiation in our environment.
  • Over 99% of radiation dose received comes from natural sources of radiation, and medical exposures such as X-rays and CT scans.
  • Nearly 60% of the dose is due to the radioactive gas Radon.
  • 10 % of the dose comes from medical exposures, mainly from medical imaging.
  • 7% comes from our food and drinking water.
  • This assessment found that the average dose remains similar to that found a decade ago.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) today published a new assessment of the average radiation doses received by the Irish population. The Ionising Radiation – National Does Report assessed the radiation exposure over the last five years received from the air we breathe, medical exposures, our diet, and exposures to radiation in our environment.

This is an update of a 2014 assessment, and the current assessment found that the average dose remains similar to that found a decade ago. The assessment found that over 99% of the average radiation dose comes from natural sources of radiation, and medical exposures such as X-rays and CT scans. Medical exposure alone can account for just over 10% of a person’s total exposure or dose.

The assessment found:

  1. Nearly 60% of the dose is due to the radioactive gas Radon in indoor air, with over 8% coming from exposure to another radioactive gas, Thoron.
  2. 10% of the dose comes from medical exposures, mainly from medical imaging.
  3. 9% comes from cosmic radiation, of which 2% is due to exposure received if flying.
  4. 7% comes from our food and drinking water.
  5. 6% comes from radiation from the ground as gamma radiation.

People in Ireland receive a slightly higher average radiation dose than the European average, mainly due to radon exposure in the home and in the workplace. Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, contributes almost 60% of the annual dose. This is of concern as radon is a major cause of lung cancer.

Over 7% of the average annual radiation dose comes from radiation in food and drinking water, the source of which is mainly naturally occurring radiation.

Radioactivity from artificial sources, such as discharges from nuclear facilities abroad, fallout from historic nuclear weapons testing and past nuclear accidents make up less than 1% of overall exposure.

Dr Micheal Lehane, EPA Director 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 assessment, HIQA reviewed radiation exposure to patients, finding that the average amount of radiation from medical exposure has decreased. This is in part due to improvements in the overall reduction of exposure to patients and increased access to new and improved medical imaging.

Mr Sean Egan, HIQA’s Director of Healthcare Regulation, 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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FSAI Report Prohibition Order On Tipperary Food Business.

Today Wednesday, June 12th 2024, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) reported that nine Enforcement Orders were served on food businesses during the month of May for breaches of food safety legislation, pursuant to the FSAI Act, 1998 and the European Union (Official Controls in Relation to Food Legislation) Regulations, 2020. The Enforcement Orders were issued by Environmental Health Officers in the Health Service Executive (HSE).

One Prohibition Order was served under the FSAI Act, 1998, on:

  • The Village Grocer, Upper Main Street, Ballyporeen, Co. Tipperary.

Four Closure Orders were served under the European Union (Official Controls in Relation to Food Legislation) Regulations, 2020 on:

  • Johnson Best Food African Take Away, 86 Summerhill, Summerhill, Dublin 1
  • Dublin Pizza Company (take away), 32 Aungier Street & 35 Aungier Street, Dublin 2
  • Mizzonis Pizza (take away), 15 Prospect Road, Glasnevin, Dublin 9
  • D1 Cafe and Bakery, 52 Dorset Street Lower, Dublin 1

Two Closure Orders were served under the FSAI Act 1998 on:

  • Istanbul Bite (Closed area: boiler room and potato peeling room) (take away), Upper Cork Hill, Youghal, Cork
  • Applegreen Cobh (fuel pumps external to the shops are not subject to this Closure Order), Tiknock, Cobh, Cork

Two Prohibition Orders were served under the European Union (Official Controls in Relation to Food Legislation) Regulations, 2020 on:

  • Fresh Oriental Store Limited, 30-32 Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1
  • Johnson Best Food African Take Away, 86 Summerhill, Dublin 1

Some of the reasons for the Enforcement Orders in May include: evidence of rodent infestation, including dead rodents in multiple areas, including under a fridge and under shelves on the shop floor; raw fish defrosting at room temperature in a dirty container on the floor of the kitchen area; accumulation of dirt, cobwebs and dead insects on floors; inadequate cleaning and a build-up of waste stored in a room next to toilets with foul odour and flies present; no hot water, soap or paper towels available at the wash hand basin in the staff toilet; absence of an adequate food safety culture particularly regarding training of staff.

Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI, said that breaches of food safety legislation pose a real danger to consumer health. She stated that “This month has seen a decrease in Closure Orders from April, with a reduction of over 50% in orders served. However, the fact remains that food safety is not an optional luxury when operating a food business. It is a legal requirement in food law to protect the health of consumers. By neglecting to uphold basic food safety and hygiene standards, a business not only jeopardises the health of its customers, but also risks damaging its own reputation as a trustworthy food business. The food industry must continue to improve its adherence to food safety legislation to ensure consumers’ health is protected.”

Details of the food businesses served with Enforcement Orders are published on the FSAI’s website. Closure Orders and Improvement Orders will remain listed in the enforcement reports on the website for a period of three months, from the date of when a premises is adjudged to have corrected its food safety issue, with Prohibition Orders being listed for a period of one month from the date the Order was lifted.

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EPA Warn – No Signs Of Improvement In Water Quality – More Action Needed.

There are no signs yet of an improvement in water quality and more action is needed, says Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • There has been no significant change in any of the water quality indicators for Ireland’s rivers, lakes, estuaries and groundwaters in 2023 and no sign of improvement overall.
  • While improvements are happening in some rivers and lakes, these are being offset by declines elsewhere.
  • The biggest issue impacting water quality is nutrient pollution from agriculture and wastewater.
  • Average nitrate levels in rivers, groundwater, estuaries and coastal waters are largely unchanged and remain too high in the east, southeast and south.
  • Average phosphorus levels in rivers and lakes are also largely unchanged and remain too high in over one quarter (27%) of rivers and one third (35%) of lakes.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published Water Quality in 2023: An Indicators Report. The report provides an update of the key indicators of the quality of Ireland’s rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal and groundwaters using monitoring data collected in 2023.

Overall, the report shows that there has been no significant change in water quality. Water quality in Ireland is not improving and nutrient levels remain too high in a large proportion of water bodies. The biological health of our rivers and our lakes have shown small net declines. While some improvements are being made, these are being offset by declines elsewhere.

Photograph taken today 12th June 2024, of the appalling state of River Suir water quality at Barry’s Bridge, Thurles town centre, Co. Tipperary.
Pic: G. Willoughby.

Commenting on the report, Dr Eimear Cotter, Director of the EPA’s Office of Evidence and Assessment, said: “It is disappointing to report that our water quality is not improving. While there are initiatives happening nationally, measures to address water quality are not being implemented at the scale or pace required. The quality of our water bodies will not improve until nutrient levels are reduced in areas where they are elevated. It is essential that there is full compliance with the Good Agricultural Practice Regulations and that actions to reduce losses of nutrients from agriculture are targeted to where they are needed. We also need to see an acceleration in the pace at which Uisce Éireann is delivering improvements in wastewater infrastructure.”

Photograph taken today, 12th June 2024, of street drain waste water run-off, including plastic paper and possibly toilet paper, being allowed to enter the river Suir at Barry’s Bridge, Thurles town centre, Co. Tipperary.
Pic: G. Willoughby.

Nitrogen pollution remains a significant issue in the east, southeast and south of the country. 42% of river sites, 17% of estuarine and coastal waters and 20% of groundwater sites all have nitrogen levels that are unsatisfactory. This is primarily attributable to intensive agricultural activities on freely draining soils in these areas.

Phosphate levels can fluctuate annually but overall there has been no significant change over recent years. Some 27% of river sites and 35% of lakes (particularly in the north and northeast) have elevated phosphorus levels. Phosphorus entering our waters is largely associated with poorly treated wastewater and run-off from agricultural lands with poorly draining soils.

Appalling state of River Suir at Barry’s Bridge, central Thurles town, pictured today 12th June 2024.
Pic: G. Willoughby.

Ms Mary Gurrie, EPA Programme Manager, added: “The report shows that more action is needed to achieve our legally binding water quality objectives. It is imperative that the next River Basin Management Plan, which is now over two years late, is published without further delay. Associated with this, there needs to be a significant improvement in the tracking and reporting of measures, to identify what is and isn’t working so that actions can be adapted or enhanced where needed to deliver water quality improvements.”

Readers Please Note:

Nitrate: Nitrate is a form of nitrogen which is a nutrient and essential for plant growth. Too much nitrogen in a water body can lead to the over-growth of plants and algae that outcompete and displace other flora and fauna. This excessive growth can also cause oxygen depletion and damage the ecology of our water bodies. Our estuaries and coastal waters are particularly sensitive to high nitrogen concentrations. The main source of excess nitrate in the environment is agriculture, with wastewater also contributing. Nitrate concentrations above the Drinking Water Standard can pose a risk to human health, particularly for young children.

Phosphorus: Phosphorus is a nutrient which is essential for plant growth. As with nitrogen, too much phosphorus in a water body can lead to the over-growth of plants and algae which disturb the ecosystem. Excess phosphorus is a particular concern for the ecological health of rivers and lakes. The main sources of excess phosphorus in the environment are agriculture and wastewater as shown in pictures featured above.

Water Quality in 2023: An Indicators Report is now available on the EPA website, HERE.

Further information on water quality is available on External link HERE.

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Tipperary Pheasants Hatched By Incubator.

Four adorable pheasant chicks have been recently hatched near Thurles, as part of an education and conservation initiative organised by the National Association of Regional Games Council (NARGC).

First to leave the shell.

The recommended temperature, using an Incubator, for pheasant eggs is 37.6 – 37.8 degrees Celsius and pheasant eggs take between 23-28 days to hatch using this method.

Pheasants are widespread across Ireland, but contrary to popular belief they are not native to us or the UK. It is believed that pheasants were first introduced to Ireland in medieval times from Southeast Asia. Back then, as now, they were popular ‘Game birds’ for hunting.

Many readers will be familiar with the distinctive white stripe seen on the neck of many pheasants around Ireland and that particular species is actually native to China.

The pheasants pictured above were hatched in a Brinsea Mini Incubator.

Pheasants are known by their hoarse call, their long tails, spotted angular markings and for eating seeds, grains and insects gleaned from the ground. They inhabit gardens, woodlands and farm hedges and are notorious for nesting on the ground. Indeed, when mowing near hedges and other ground level nesting areas favoured by pheasants, take care not to destroy or damage their nests.

To find out more about pheasants you can visit HERE or HERE.

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Ireland Projected To Exceed National & EU Climate Targets.

Ireland to miss emissions targets even under a best case scenario – EPA.

  • Ireland is projected to achieve a reduction of up to 29% in total greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to a target of 51%, when the impact of the majority of actions outlined in Climate Action Plan 2024 is included.
  • To achieve a reduction of 29% would require full implementation of a wide range of policies and plans across all sectors and for these to deliver the anticipated carbon savings.
  • Almost all sectors are on a trajectory to exceed their national sectoral emissions ceilings for 2025 and 2030, including Agriculture, Electricity and Transport.
  • The first two carbon budgets (2021-2030) will not be met, and by a significant margin of between 17% and 27%.
  • Ireland will not meet its EU Effort Sharing Regulation target of 42% reduction by 2030.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published its greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2023-2050.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published its greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2023-2050.

EPA analysis shows that planned climate policies and measures, if fully implemented, could deliver up to 29% emissions reduction by 2030 compared to 2018, a reduction of 4% each year from 2023 to 2030. This is insufficient to achieve the ambition of 51% emissions reduction in Ireland’s Climate Act.

The first two carbon budgets (2021-2030), which aim to support achievement of the 51% emissions reduction goal, are projected to be exceeded by a significant margin of between 17% and 27 %.

All sectors, except Residential buildings, are projected to underperform relative to the sectoral emissions ceilings. Agriculture, Industry and Electricity sectors are projected to be the furthest from their sectoral ceiling in 2030.

Ms Laura Burke, Director General, EPA said: “The EPA’s projections show that full delivery of all climate action plans and policies could deliver a 29% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This is well short of both our European and National emission reduction targets and highlights the scale of effort required to achieve the required reductions across all sectors of our economy. The key priority must be to translate the aspiration in our policies and plans to implementation on the ground.”

Ms Burke added: “The transition to a low carbon society is building momentum in Ireland. We see this with more electric vehicles on our roads, renewable electricity powering our homes and adoption of new farm practices. However, we need to speed up and scale up the transition.”

Agriculture.
Total emissions from the Agriculture sector are projected to decrease by between 1% and 18% over the period 2022 to 2030. Savings are projected from a variety of measures including limits on nitrogen fertiliser usage, switching to different fertilisers and bovine feed additives. The higher ambition scenario assumes that most of the measures outlined in Climate Action Plan 2024, AgClimatise and Teagasc (MACC) are in place.

Transport.
Emissions from the sector are projected to reduce by 26% over the period 2022 to 2030, if the measures set out in plans and policies are implemented. These include over 940,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030, increased biofuel blend rates and measures to support more sustainable transport. Road freight is projected to be the biggest source of road transport greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Energy.
Driven by a reduction in fossil fuel usage and increased net importation of electricity from interconnectors, there was a marked drop of almost 24% in emissions from electricity generation between 2022 and 2023. In combination with planned increases in renewable energy generation from wind and solar, energy sector emissions are projected to reduce by 62% and achieve over 80% renewable electricity generation by 2030.

Land use.

Emissions from this sector are projected to increase between 23% to 99% over the period of 2023 to 2030 as our forestry reaches harvesting age and changes from a carbon sink to a carbon source. Planned policies and measures for the sector, such as increased afforestation, water table management on agricultural organic soils and peatland rehabilitation, are projected to reduce the extent of the emissions increase.

Commenting, Ms Mary Frances Rochford, Programme Manager said: “The EPA projections show the importance of accelerating the delivery of renewable technologies to support decarbonised electrification across the economy, adopting known emission reduction technologies while new solutions are developed in agriculture, providing alternatives to car and freight transport, and taking action to reduce emissions from land to reduce Ireland’s emissions. Increasing the pace of implementation will deliver the required emission reductions and create space for adoption of further policies and measures.”

For further detail on these figures, see the EPA report Greenhouse Gas Emission Projections 2023 to 2050 and EPA Greenhouse Gas web resource on the EPA website.

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