Radon test kits still available

Lexi Comer For The Madison Press

January 14, 2014

What is Radon you ask?

Radon is a radioactive gas, which is colorless, odorless, tasteless and chemically inert. Unless you test for Radon, there is no way of knowing how much is present in your home, office or school. Radon is formed by the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in rock, soil and water. Naturally existing, low levels of uranium occur widely in the Earth’s crust. Radon is randomly deposited and can be found in all 50 states.

Madison County is reported by the Environmental Protection Agency to be a Zone 1, which is the highest potential level. Most indoor radon comes into your home, office or school from the soil or rock beneath it. Radon and other gases rise through the soil and get trapped under buildings. The trapped gases build up pressure, and because the air pressure inside your home, office or school is lower than the pressure in the soil, higher pressure under the buildings force gases through floors and other openings. Once inside, the radon can become trapped and more concentrated, the more concentrated the radon the more dangerous it becomes to you and your family.

Openings which commonly allow easy flow of Radon gases into your home, office or school include:

• Cracks in floors and walls

• Cavities in walls

• Gaps in suspended floors

• Joints in construction materials

• Openings around sump pumps and drains

• Gaps around utility pipes and wires

• Crawl spaces that open directly into the building

The Surgeon General has warned that Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer among those that smoke, and the first leading cause of lung cancer among none smokers. If you are a smoker or are exposed to second hand smoke you and are also exposed to elevated radon levels, your risk for lung cancer is especially high. Breathing radon does not cause any short-term health effects such as shortness of breath, coughing, headaches or fever but the long-term effects can be devastating.

The Madison County-London City Health District is offering free radon test kits to all county residents. It is very easy to test your home, office or school. The testing will only take a few short minutes of your time. For more information on protecting your family from radon gases and to get your free radon test kit contact the health department at (740) 852-3065, ext. 225.

Special points of interest:

• Nearly one out of every 15 homes has a radon level EPA considers to be elevated.

• Homes below the third floor of a multi-family building are particularly at risk.

• New or old homes, well sealed or drafty homes, homes with or without basements can all have high radon levels. Radon has no boundaries.