Officials warn to check radon levels

Officials push for radon tests (WDTN Photo)

MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) – January is Radon Action Month and health officials are pushing for people to test their homes.

It lives inside your home and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  has it listed as the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers.

The radioactive gas is responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in the country.

The EPA suggests radon levels be at 4 picocuries per liter, if they are higher, they suggest installing one of many systems that would reduce the levels. The agency also says even if levels are below 4 picocuries it can still pose a risk.

Levels of radon in a home can vary depending on the weather, during cold winters radon levels can sky rocket in well-sealed homes.

The odorless gas is caused by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil and water and seeps into homes through drains and cracks in the foundation. While radon is natural in the air, levels can be harmful when it is trapped inside a house.

“It’s considered to be a serious health risk. In the Miami Valley, we are known to have radon in high concentration in this region,” said Brenden Gitzinger, Environmental Doctor president.

Nearly 1 in every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have elevated levels of radon, Gitzinger says especially in southwest Ohio.

“Radon is part of our soil geology which contains uranium, I think most people do not know,” said Gitzinger.

The gas can be found inside homes, schools and well water.

“It’s a problem anyone can have, but it’s easy to fix,” said Gitzinger.

Experts suggest to test your home every two to three years with either a short-term or long-term test kit. Short-term testing is as easy as going to a home improvement store and buying an at-home kit for between $10 and $20. The monitor is left on a low level shelf close to the floor for anywhere from 24 hours to a week and than sent off for the levels to be checked.

The EPA lists the following ways that radon can get into buildings:

• Cracks in solid floors and walls

• Construction joints

• Gaps in suspended floors

• Gaps around service pipes

• Cavities inside walls

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