Q: My wife says I should be concerned about radon in our house. What kind of test should we use, and how often?
A: Radon, a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas, enters a home through cracks in the foundation, holes or cavities around pipes, through floor drains or sump pump openings.
Breathing it in creates no immediate symptoms, but over time, it can cause lung cancer and will significantly increase the risk of lung cancer among smokers who are also exposed to radon. More than 20,000 people will die this year after breathing too much radon without knowing it.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers offers the following tips to protect from radon exposure.
•The only way to figure out if your home has high levels of radon is to perform a test. There are two types of tests: short- and long-term.
Central Kentucky’s karstlands have long been a healthy source of tourism dollars, but that same topography carries increased health risks from radon gas, the leading source of lung cancer for nonsmokers. Health experts now say that radon risk has been shown to be more serious than previously believed and are strongly recommending that property owners here test for it.
An estimated 14 percent of lung cancer cases are attributable to exposure to radon gas, according to new findings by the World Health Organization. In the U.S. alone, the Environmental Protection Agency says that 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year can be attributed to radon.
A rare case of harmful levels of radon gas in a Thurston County home has been documented by an East Olympia homeowner and state health officials.
It raises a question about whether the naturally occurring, radioactive gas is present in other homes in the county.
The only way to answer the question is for homeowners to test their homes. Radon test kits are available at most home improvement stores for $25 or less.
“Testing is a worthwhile thing to do,” said Mike Brennan, a radiation health physicist at the state Department of Health.
About one of every three Americans will develop some form of malignancy during his or her lifetime. This year alone, about 1,437,000 new cases will be diagnosed, and more than 565,000 people will die of the disease. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in America, and as deaths from heart disease decline, it's poised to assume the dubious distinction of becoming our leading killer.
You don't have to be an international scientist to understand how you can try to protect yourself and your family.
The 10 commandments of cancer prevention are:
What We Found
EPA does not perform oversight of radon testing device accuracy or reliability. The 1988 Indoor Radon Abatement Act required that EPA establish proficiency programs for firms offering radon-related services, including testing and mitigation. EPA established and operated proficiency programs until 1998, when it disinvested in these programs. According to Agency representatives, EPA has neither the authority nor resources to ensure radon testing devices and testing laboratories are accurate and reliable. EPA asserts that it shares oversight responsibility with States and industry, including the two national proficiency programs operating under private auspices. However, without oversight, EPA cannot assure that radon testing devices provide accurate data on indoor radon risks or that radon testing laboratories accurately analyze and report radon results.
A study released this week shows 42% of homes tested in Illinois have excess levels of radon. Radon is colorless, odorless and tasteless. But, it's considered the number one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. And, it's in abundance across this area.
Here's a reason to get out of your house this winter. A study released this week shows 42% of homes tested in Illinois have excess levels of radon. Radon is colorless, odorless and tasteless. But, it's considered the number one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. And, it's in abundance across this area. Nearly 72-thousand homes were tested for the gas between 2003 and 2007. And, the state lists nine local counties where more than half the tested homes need to be treated for high radon levels.
We have an “old” reason to test our homes for radon. Radon (found in all 50 states and around the world) is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. And we have an emotional reason. The wife of “superman,” Dana Reeve left us far too early, leaving behind an orphaned son, and a cause without her voice. Statistically as a never smoker, radon is the prime suspect in her death.
But if I can’t play on your emotions, and if you, like me, have already found your new years resolutions to be too much work, try this.
Test your home for radon because:
1. It doesn’t take any willpower.
2. You can do it once (or twice) and forget about it for a long, long time.
3. If the level is abnormal, it’s not your fault.