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A spokesperson said there was “no evidence that the workplace is a key causal factor for the cancers” affecting staff.
Minutes from the hospital’s Executive Management Team (EMT) meeting in October show that a letter was sent to General Manager Ms Maria Barry, “highlighting the number of cancer cases amongst staff at present and the high radon in South Tipperary”.
Concern regarding the possible presence of asbestos at the hospital was also raised in the letter. The author’s name was redacted by the hospital when issuing the documents to the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request.
The minutes stated that the matter would be discussed at the Environmental Monitoring Committee and reported back to the EMT.
Radon is a known carcinogen and up to 250 cases of lung cancer in Ireland every year can be linked to it. Clonmel and surrounding areas have an estimated 20 per cent of homes above acceptable radon levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In December, the matter was again raised at an EMT meeting: “A letter from… regarding the high number of staff with cancers was discussed. Radon testing performed in 2006 and one room in STGH was recorded as slightly outside the acceptable norm, this is presently being retested. It was also confirmed that there is no asbestos in STGH at the moment, following a management risk assessment.”
A SSWHG spokesperson refused to confirm if any remedial action had been undertaken in 2006 or more recently in relation to radon levels. They also declined to reveal the results of more recent testing.
“The issues raised are currently being managed by the hospital management through the Environmental Monitoring Committee and there is no evidence that the workplace is a key causal factor for the cancers,” a spokesperson commented.
Five services offer a commercial radon measurement service in Ireland, including the EPA.
An EPA spokesperson said it had no record of carrying out a radon measurement in STGH. “However, that is not to say that no such measurement was made.”