Radon testing kits are available from Emmet County Public Health for $7.
Radon is an invisible, tasteless and odorless radioactive gas formed from the decay of uranium in the earth's soil. Emmet and Dickinson County, in particular, are prone to high radon levels due to the large amount of uranium-bearing bedrock deposited by glaciers. Radon eventually works its way through the soil to the earth's surface where it can seep through foundation gaps or insulation and get trapped in the home.
Only smoking exceeds radon as the leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and it's the leading cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers. Over 20,000 lung cancer deaths occur in the nation each year due to radon exposure, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. One out of 15 homes has high radon levels and one out of five schools has at least one room with excessive radon levels.
Changes in the weather, opening and closing doors, type of air conditioning or heating systems and family lifestyle can impact home radon levels. Winter is the best time to measure radon, and levels can be reduced by ventilating the home; opening windows or doors; forced ventilation; making sure all crawl space vents are open; and sealing cracks in the foundation, basement walls, floors, moldings, loose fitting pipes, vent sump pumps and painting basement floors and walls.
To obtain your radon test kits, visit the Emmet County Public Health office at 508 S. First St. in Estherville or call (712) 362-2490 or call the Iowa Radon Hotline at 1-800-383-5992. Additional information can be found at www.epa.gov/iaq/whereyoulive.html.