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Local nonprofit's radon program helps protect children in daycare

Recently, a Lindenhurst daycare provider took advantage of a free program from Respiratory Health Association to help ensure her charges' safety. Robin Kolec, owner of Robin's Family Home Daycare, attended a seminar on radon through the Lake County Home Daycare Network.

At the seminar, a Respiratory Health Association educator taught daycare providers from licensed daycare centers and licensed daycare homes about new radon regulations. The law requires daycare centers and daycare homes be tested for radon at least once every three years. Respiratory Health Association provided radon test kits - which are easy to use at home - and raffled off a home radon mitigation. Robin, who had higher than recommended radon levels in her home, won the mitigation and put her mind to ease about her family's and her daycare children's safety.

"Living in my house with my family, of course I was a little surprised and concerned to find that our levels were over the safe limit," Robin said. "I'd heard of radon, but I didn't know how it could get into your house. I certainly did not know it was the second leading cause of lung cancer."

Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that is released by the decay of uranium, a naturally-occurring rock in our soil. When radon is released, it can seep through cracks in a home's foundation. Exposure to this deadly gas can lead to lung cancer. The only way to know if there is radon in a home is to test. If levels are above 4.0 pCi/L, the U.S. EPA recommended level for safety, the next step is to hire a licensed professional mitigater to address the problem. Keith Volsted of VSI Radon Reduction Corp. provided his time and expertise for the Respiratory Health Association's program.

There are several mitigation methods. One of the most common and reliable involves installing a pipe and fan system. The pipe is installed beneath the house and connected to a fan which draws the radon gas, like a vacuum, from below the home through the pipe system to the outside air.

"To apply for new or to renew licenses, daycare providers are required to post the most recent measurable levels of radon for parents and caregivers to see, at this time they're not required to mitigate," said Eileen Lowery, senior director of programs at Respiratory Health Association. "However, we still encourage daycare providers and home owners to contact a licensed professional mitigater if tests show that there are unsafe levels of radon in a home. No child's health should be put at risk when an oftentimes simple home improvement can protect them."

Robin said she's grateful to have learned more about radon and that she was able to take action in one more way that protects her charges' safety.

"I learned a lot, and I know that the parents feel assured that I'm doing what's necessary to take care of their children," Robin said.

Read the article online: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/grayslake_gurnee_round_lake/community/chi-ugc-article-local-nonprofits-radon-program-helps-protect-2014-04-21,0,7382781.story