Citizens Urged To Test Homes For Radon, The Second Leading Cause Of Lung Cancer In The U.S.
A Radon Awareness Program is currently offered through the Henry and Stark County Health Department to raise awareness about the health hazards related to radon gas and encourage residents to test their homes. Radon gas is a serious health threat, but because it is invisible and odorless, people tend to ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer in their homes.
Radon levels are elevated in about 65% of the homes in Henry County and 82% of homes in Stark County and cause more than 20,000 deaths across the U.S. annually. Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, radioactive gas that is present in the soil. It can reach harmful levels when trapped in buildings and homes. Radon gas finds its way into the home through cracks and other openings in the foundation. Radon is a Class A human carcinogen, meaning there is actual evidence that exposure to radon causes lung cancer in humans. Those who smoke are at an even more heightened risk.
Testing your home is the only way to know if you have elevated levels of radon. Testing is as simple as placing a test kit in the lowest level of the house that is used on a regular basis, waiting three days, and placing a prepaid package in the mail. Your results can then be found online shortly after the lab receives your test kit. A limited number of these radon test kits are available at the Henry and Stark County Health Department, Environmental Health Division.
If radon levels above the EPA’s 4.0 pCi/L action level are detected in your home the problem can be fixed by a qualified, licensed contractor for a cost similar to that of many common home repairs. The Health Department can provide you with information regarding radon mitigation on their website, or through their Environmental Health Division if this is the case.
Testing is the only way to know the radon risk in your home. All homes should be tested regardless of the age of the home or whether or not there is a basement. Radon enters the home through openings in the foundation. It is drawn in to the house due to air pressure differences between the inside and outside of the home.
Radon testing is easy and inexpensive and can be done by the homeowner themselves.
Radon testing can also be performed by a licensed radon measurement professional. Several of these professionals can be found in the Henry and Stark County surrounding area.
Then it’s time to take action! Indoor radon levels can be lowered by installing a radon mitigation system that collects radon prior to its entry into the house and discharges it to a safe location above the highest eave of the home. The cost to reduce radon depends on how your home was built and how you use it. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs. Mitigation systems must be installed by a licensed professional. Several of these professionals can be found in the Henry and Stark County surrounding area.
The risk of developing lung cancer from radon is increased exponentially in people who are also smokers. At least 85% of radon associated lung cancer deaths are in current or past smokers.This means that smokers are at an even more heightened risk of dying from radon associated lung cancer than non-smokers. Visit the Henry and Stark County Health Department Tobacco Control page for information on quitting smoking.
The Illinois General Assembly Act 096-0417 recommends that every occupied school building in Illinois be tested for high levels of radon every five years. It is required that, of those schools who do test, results will be reported to the State Board of Education, who will prepare a report every two years of the results from all schools in Illinois who have tested to be submitted to the General Assembly and the Governor.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has developed a program to help with testing costs for school districts. IEMA may exempt a school from using a licensed radon professional for testing services provided a school district employee take an IEMA approved online training course and exam on school testing. This school district employee must then perform the measurements in accordance with procedures approved by IEMA.
For more information on this program and other grant opportunities visit the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s radon website or contact Patrick Daniels, IEMA radon director, at 217-782-1325.