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USDA Offers Funding to Help Rural Illinois Residents Address Radon Leaks

According to a news release from the State of Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the USDA is offering federal funding in order to help rural Illinois residents fix problems with radon in their homes.

Radon has become a major problem in rural homes in Illinois. IEMA reported that of all homes that were tested for radon in the state, nearly 40 percent were found to have high levels of the dangerous lung toxin. The USDA is offering aid to rural Illinois residents in the form of both grants and loans.

IEMA Director Jonathan Monken spoke about IEMA's announcement Tuesday and how it can benefit rural residents with radon problems in their homes. Monken said, "These loans and grants could help many people in rural Illinois reduce the radon hazard in their homes. I encourage people who may qualify for this program to contact USDA and get more information."

For Illinois residents to qualify for USDA Rural Development grants or loans, residents must live in or near a community that has a population less than 20,000 and exhibit a radon problem in their home and financial need.

Grants are being made available to residents that are 62 or older and exhibit financial needs that are part of the low income requirement. Loans from the USDA are available at a 1 percent interest rate and the USDA has coordinated 20-year payment plans for those who qualify for the loans. The grants and loans will help residents repair leaks in house foundations or other spots where radon is entering their homes. Both the USDA and IEMA are encouraging rural residents to visit the USDA's Rural Development website or calling the informational phone number (217) 403-6202.

According to the EPA's radon information website, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Radon is an elemental, heavy gas which leaks into homes through cracks in foundations from the ground as radioactive uranium decays and is generally found in basements or other lower level rooms.

Radon is tasteless, odorless and completely invisible, making it especially dangerous. Once inhaled, the radioactive radon causes damage to tissue as it decays and can ultimately lead to cancer. However, radon in homes can be prevented. Test kits are available at hardware stores and measure the radon level in a specific room. Although no level of radon is safe, test kits can alert homeowners of whether there are leaks in their foundation or other sources of leaking radon.

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20110615/us_ac/8643249_usda_offers_funding_to_help_rural_illinois_residents_address_radon_leaks_1;_ylc=X3oDMTEwb3FrM2ZiBF9TAzIwMjM4Mjc1MjQEZW1haWxJZAMxMzA4MTcwMDA4.