Archive for Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dangers of radon

October 13, 2010

Radon, a tasteless, odorless, colorless, radioactive gas produced from the decay of uranium, is naturally found in nearly all soils. Radon gas moves from the ground under and around your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Nearly one out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. The only way to know the radon level in your home is to test.

The Kansas Radon Program suggests that all homes in Kansas be tested for radon gas. Present indicators are that one in four houses in Kansas may have elevated levels. A do-it-yourself test kit is an economical, easy to use, reliable, and readily available option. This type of kit is available at the Leavenworth County Extension Office for $5.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Given the increased potential for lung cancer the radon hazard brings, Kansans should be asking themselves, “Have we tested our home yet?” The US Surgeon General advises: “Indoor radon gas is a national health problem. Radon causes thousands of deaths each year. Millions of homes have elevated radon levels. Most homes should be tested for radon. When elevated levels are confirmed, the problem should be corrected.”

The amount of radon in the air is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/l). Approximately 0.2 to 1.0 pCi/l is normally found in outdoor air. The national estimated indoor average is about 1.3 Ci/l. EPA has set 4 pCi/l as the maximum average recommended indoor radon concentration. With the technology available today, most homes with high readings can be reduced to below 4 pCi/ and many can be reduced to below 2 pCi/l.

Your testing process should begin with a short-term test of two to seven days. If your result is over 4 pCi/l, follow up with either a second short-term test or a long-term test. Long-term tests give a better understanding of average radon levels. Short-term tests get results quickly. If either the average result of the two short-term tests or the result of a long-term test is over 4 pCi/l, you should consider taking steps to reduce radon levels.

When radon testing indicates elevated levels, a trained contractor is the best choice to correct the problem. In most cases, homes can be fixed for $800 to $2,000. There may be trained experts in your area who can test for you. Make certain you hire a firm or individual that is a radon professional measurement specialist listed in a National Radon Measurement Proficiency program, such as National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) (www.neha.org) or National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) (www.nrsb.org). Lists of these firms and suppliers of test kits are available from the above listed websites or from the Kansas Radon Program Coordinator at 1-800-693-5343.

For more information, visit the Kansas Radon Program website at: www.kansasradonprogram.org.

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