FPS staff report
January 7, 2013
January is Radon Action Month according to the Surgeon General and health agencies throughout the United States have joined forces to promote awareness of the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers.
Radon testing kits are available at the Carroll County Health Department located at 301 Moody Ave., SW., Carrollton. The American Lung Association, Centers for Disease Control, and National Cancer Institute all agree radon is a national health problem and encourage radon testing during the January awareness drive.
Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible and odorless radioactive gas and is produced in the ground through the normal decay of uranium and radium. High radon levels have been found in every state. Dig up the top 6 feet of an acre of land and you will find, on average, about 50 pounds of uranium according to the radon information section on the health department’s website. Uranium decays to radium, which then decays to radon. Radon levels vary from home to home, and the level in one home cannot be gauged by the results in a neighbor’s home. Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon all major health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control, the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association agree with that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year.
One in 15 American homes contains high levels of radon and millions of Americans are unknowingly exposed to this dangerous gas. Radon can be a problem in all types of homes, old homes, new homes, drafty homes or homes without basements.
A recent study by Harvard University ranks radon as American’s #1 in-home hazard. By taking simple steps to test a home for radon and fix if necessary, this heath hazard can be avoided.
Radon gas is not isolated to certain geographical areas or home types. Radon problems have been detected in homes in every county of the United States. It caused more American fatalities last year than carbon monoxide, fires, and handguns combined. If a home hasn’t been tested for radon in the past two years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General urge homeowner’s to take action.
The federal commitment made by the EPA, General Services Administration, and the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Veterans Affairs, will focus efforts on radon reduction and mitigation in homes, especially those of low-income families, many of whom do not have the resources to make the simple fixes necessary to protect their homes and loved ones. To learn more about the Federal Radon Action Plan, visit www.radonplan.org.
The EPA estimates that about 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. are radon-related. Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
To obtain a free test kit, call the Carroll County Health Department at 330-627-4866 ext. 22. The test kit is designed to be exposed from 72 to 168 hours (three to seven days). The testing can be completed during any season as long as closed conditions can be maintained in the home throughout the testing period. This means windows and external doors should be kept closed for 12 hours before starting the test and remain closed until the end of the testing period. This doesn’t mean a family must change its normal entry and exit routines, just close the doors when entering or exiting the home, officials said.
To learn more about radon in your home, visit www.epa.gov/radon