We’re nearing the end of National Radon Action Month, and it’s a good time to remind Tri-State Area homeowners to have their homes tested for the radioactive gas and take steps to reduce the risk if elevated levels are detected.
Radon is colorless and odorless and is produced when uranium breaks down. It can enter your homes in many ways, including through cracks in a home’s foundation, windows and other joints.
Exposure to the gas can prove deadly — it’s the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall, right behind smoking. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to radon is the No. 1 cause of any cancer. It’s sobering to know that the risk of developing lung cancer among people who smoke and are exposed to high levels of radon is 10 times that of a person who doesn’t smoke and is exposed. All told, the CDC says 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year can be attributed to radon.
Dangers associated with the gas are all around us — the CDC reports that one in 15 homes across the country have high radon levels.
That’s especially true for residents of the Tri-State Area. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, counties in our region sit in the middle of a zone where predicted average indoor screening levels are greater than 4 picocuries per liter of air. And when readings reach that level, the EPA recommends you take action to fix your home.
Included in that zone are Jefferson, Harrison, Carroll, Belmont and Columbiana counties in Ohio; Hancock, Brooke and Ohio counties in West Virginia; and Beaver and Allegheny counties in Pennsylvania.
To help put that number into perspective, the CDC says that 4 picocuries per liter is the equivalent of receiving 200 chest X-rays or smoking eight cigarettes a day.
Homes should be tested for radon every two years or after any renovations are made, officials say. That includes the installation of windows, exterior doors, insulation, a roof or a furnace or air conditioner.
In addition to the self-test kits, homes can be evaluated by a licensed radon tester.
Indoor air quality is an important concern, especially in our homes, where we spend a large portion of our time.
Testing for radon, and following through with taking action to mitigate the risk, are important steps toward making our homes healthier places to live and raise our families.
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