Editorial – Radon danger lurks in one of three homesIt causes more than 100 times more deaths each year than carbon monoxide poisoning. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
It causes more than 100 times more deaths each year than carbon monoxide poisoning.
It is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
An estimated 20,000 people across the country will die this year from breathing too much of it. Unfortunately, not enough people know about this deadly threat.
It’s radon – an invisible, naturally occurring radioactive gas that seeps into homes undetected through cracks in the foundation. If trapped inside, the levels of radon can reach harmful levels.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nationwide, one in 15 homes has a high level of radon. The danger is higher here. An EPA report estimated that one in three Douglas County homes is considered to have an unsafe level of radon.
Jessica Peterson, Douglas County Public Health educator, wrote an informative column about the radon danger in last Friday’s Echo Press (page A12). She noted that local public health officials are partnering with the EPA this month to spread awareness about radon.
What can families do to protect themselves?
The first step is to test your home for radon. Testing is easy, inexpensive and now is the opportune time because home windows are likely closed for lengthy periods.
You can buy a radon test kit at local hardware and home improvement stores. Douglas County Public Health also is offering test kits for $5.
If the kit detects a problem, fixing it won’t necessarily break your bank account. The cost, according to public health, is similar to that of many common home repairs such as painting or installing a new water heater – anywhere from $800 to $2,500. A typical solution is to have a contractor install a radon venting system.
If you’re building a new home, ask the contractor to install radon-resistant features during construction. The EPA also recommends homebuyers to ask their builder to test for radon before they move in.
Taking steps against radon works, according to health experts. Preventative actions have saved an estimated 6,000 lives in the last 20 years, the EPA notes. The agency’s goal is to double that number to 12,000 lives saved in the next five years.
Anyone can be a “radon leader” and help save a life by telling a friend or neighbor about preventing lung cancer from breathing radon, the EPA points out. For more information about radon, call Douglas County Public Health at (320) 763-6018, visit epa.gov/radon or call 1-800-SOS-RADON (767-7236).
Let’s do more to spread the word about this very real health risk. Test your home. Make repairs, if necessary. Talk to others. Save a life.