SIDNEY — The Sidney-Shelby County Health Department has announced that free kits to test for radon are available.
January has been designated National Radon Action Month.
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas found in nearly all soils. Radon cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. It leaks into homes through cracks in the foundation, openings around sump pumps and drains, construction joints and cracks in walls. It has been known to cause lung cancer.
“Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer. Radon represents a far smaller risk for this disease, but it is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Scientists estimate that 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year are related to radon,” according to the National Cancer Institute website.
“Exposure to the combination of radon gas and cigarette smoke creates a greater risk of lung cancer than exposure to either factor alone. The majority of radon-related cancer deaths occur among smokers. However, it is estimated that more than 10 percent of radon-related cancer deaths occur among nonsmokers,” the website says.
Free radon test kits are available at uchd.net/radon. Once an online order form is sent, it takes two to three weeks to receive the kit. The test takes about three days and then it takes another two or three weeks to obtain the results.
If the radon level in a home is four picocuries per liter or higher (4 pCi/L), steps should be taken to reduce the radon levels.
According to “A Citizen’s Guide to Radon,” published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and available at www.epa.gov/radon, “There are several proven methods to reduce radon in your home, but the one primarily used is a vent pipe system and fan, which pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it to the outside. This system, known as a soil suction radon reduction system, does not require major changes to your home.
“Lowering high radon levels requires technical knowledge and special skills. You should use a contractor who is trained to fix radon problems. A qualified contractor can study the radon problem in your home and help you pick the right treatment method. Check with your state radon office for names of qualified or state certified radon contractors in your area.”
For information, call the health department at 498-7249.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.