January is Radon Awareness Month

Published 10:38 pm Thursday, January 17, 2013

You can’t see, taste or smell it, but radon can pose a serious threat to your family’s health.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated January as National Radon Awareness month. The EPA and the Surgeon General urges people to test their homes to see if they have elevated levels of the radioactive gas known to cause lung cancer.

The surgeon general and the EPA recognize radon as the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the nation, behind smoking, but it is the leading cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers. Radon is a health risk that can be avoided if people test their homes and take action to reduce excessive levels.

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Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that comes from the radioactive decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil. It can enter homes and buildings through small cracks in the foundation sump pumps or soil in crawlspaces.

Testing is the only way to determine if your family is at risk from radon exposure. Testing is easy and inexpensive. Test kits can be purchased from home improvement stores or online with prices ranging from $10 to $20. It usually takes three to seven days, with only a few minutes to set up a test kit. Winter is a great time to test a home for radon because “closed house” conditions are needed for an accurate test.

Polk County Extension Center encourages all Polk County citizens to test their homes for radon. For a limited time, the Extension Center has 50 free test kits for Polk county residents. Kits will be distribute on a first come first served basis, and are limited to one per household. Please come by the Extension Center at the corner of Gibson and Ward Streets in Columbus to pick up a free kit. Please no phone orders.

During previous radon surveys, conducted by the Extension Center, elevated radon levels have been found in homes in different parts of Polk County. The EPA has established 4.0 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) as the action level for radon levels in homes.

For additional information about radon or radon testing, contact the Polk County Extension Center at 894-8218.

– article submitted by Jimmi Buell