January is National Radon Action Month and the Nevada Radon Education Program of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is offering free short-term radon test kits statewide, now through the end of February. Free public information programs are also being offered at various locations throughout January and February. Radon test kits will be available at the presentations, as well as throughout the month at Cooperative Extension locations around the state.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is present in rocks and soil. It can accumulate in buildings and can cause lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 21,000 Americans die each year from radon-induced lung cancer, killing more people than secondhand smoke, drunk driving, falls in the home, drowning or fires in the home. The EPA recommends citizens make reparations to homes if radon levels reach 4 picoCuries per liter of air (pCi/l) or higher. According to experts, living in a home with an average radon level of 4 pCi/l poses a similar risk of developing lung cancer to smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day.
In Nevada, elevated radon levels have been found in one in four homes tested, as 3,044 out of 11,716 valid test results were at or above the EPA Action Level of 4 pCi/l.
Radon can enter any home - old or new, well-sealed or drafty. Even homes with slab on grade, crawl spaces, basements or invisible foundation cracks are susceptible. Variables that determine radon levels include how the home was constructed, lifestyle factors and the strength of the radon source near or beneath the house. The only way to know a building's radon level is to test. If high levels of radon are found, there is a way to reduce or mitigate radon levels.
Radon-induced lung cancer is highly preventable. A simple three-day test can determine if a house has a radon problem and winter is an ideal time to test a home for radon. When a home is closed up during cooler weather months, radon concentrations typically increase.
One can't predict which homes will have high radon levels, as two neighboring homes can have vastly different radon levels. Therefore UNCE, EPA and the Nevada State Health Division urge all Nevadans to get their homes tested for radon. For more information, visit the Nevada Radon Education Program website, www.RadonNV.com, or call the Radon Hotline, 888-RADON10 (888-723-6610). Nevada residents only.