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New Radon Numbers Highlight Portland-Area Health Risks

New estimates of radon risks across Oregon underscore the need for homeowners to test for the presence of the odorless, invisible radioactive gas, researchers say.

The update, released this week, suggests that one in every four houses in the Portland area accumulates radon above the level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says should prompt fixes to keep the gas outdoors.

That's double the national average, said Scott Burns, a Portland State University geology professor who worked with five students to compile radon tests from homes and businesses statewide.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after smoking, EPA estimates, and the leading cause among non-smokers.

High Radon Levels Found in 1 in 5 Schools, More Testing Advised

IAQ Index™ provides test kits to help identify radon levels and other hazards in schools, homes and offices.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “A nationwide survey of radon levels in schools estimates that nearly one in five has at least one schoolroom with a short-term radon level above the action level of 4 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter) - the level at which EPA recommends that schools take action to reduce the level. EPA estimates that more than seventy thousand (70,000) schoolrooms in use today have high short-term radon levels.”

Radon Hazards Identified in Easy to Use IAQ Test Kit

IAQ Index™ provides test kits to help identify radon levels and other hazards in homes, offices and schools.

Radon is an invisible radioactive gas that results from the radioactive decay of radium. It may be found in rock formations and groundwater beneath buildings or in certain building materials. The gas typically moves up through the soil and penetrates buildings through cracks, sumps and other holes in the building slab or foundation.

Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in people’s lungs when they breathe. As these particles continue to undergo radioactive decay, they continue to release energy that can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of many years.