Radon is a radioactive gas that is colorless and odorless. It originates in the soil from the natural decay of uranium and radium that was ground up and left behind by glaciers. Radon gas enters your home in the following ways:
n Exposed soil or rock in crawlspaces.
n Floor wall joints.
n Floor drains.
n Cracks or flaws in floor slab.
n Hollow objects - support posts.
n Around utility posts.
n Cracks or flaws in foundation walls.
The only way to know if you have a radon problem is to have your home tested.
Facts about radon:
n Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer (second to smoking) in the United States.
n The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon gas causes approximately 21,000 deaths per year nationally; most of these are preventable.
n The EPA has set a recommended radon action level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). They recommend that all Iowa homes be tested for radon and fixed if over 4 pCi/L.
n Iowa leads the nation for the highest percentage of homes with elevated indoor radon levels. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) says approximately 72 percent of basements or levels in contact with soil have high radon.
n The average radon level in Emmet County is 7.1 pCi/L (recommended is less than 4 pCi/L).
n Radon test kits are available for $7 from Emmet County Public Health located at 508 S. First St., Estherville or retail stores.
Luckily, radon is easy and inexpensive to detect. However, it is up to you to find out whether radon is a problem in your home.
The best time to conduct tests is during the cold weather months, like January, when the windows are closed. If you are planning to buy a new or existing home, make sure to have the home tested as part of the purchase agreement.
For more information on radon contact the Emmet County Public Health office at 712-362-2490 or the Iowa Radon Hotline at 1-800-383-5992.
You can also check out the following websites for more information and maps: www.idph.state.ia.us/eh/radon.asp, www.iowaaircoalition.org/, www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/buildradonout.pdf, www.healthhouse.org.
To find out more about radon and lung cancer health studies performed in Iowa, go to www.cheec.uiowa.edu/misc/radon.html.