Douglas County has the highest per capital radon levels in the Silver State.
Just over 17 percent of the 25,500 homes in the county have been tested for the colorless, odorless gas that is the second highest cause of lung cancer after smoking.
The last report was compiled before the coronavirus outbreak, but of the 4,437 homes tested for the gas, 1,804 were at higher than the action level, representing 40.7 percent of the homes in the county.
The gas emanates from the decay of radioactive elements that are largely found in the granite that makes up the bulk of the Sierra Nevada. It seeps through cracks in foundations and collects in still places in homes where people can breath it in.
Local governments in Douglas County are proclaiming January Radon Action Month.
January is National Radon Action Month, and University of Nevada, Reno Extension’s Radon Education Program is offering free short-term radon test kits to Nevadans in January and February, so that homeowners can identify whether their homes have high levels of the cancer-causing gas and can take steps to mitigate risks. Radon test kits are available at Extension offices and partnering locations, as well as at free presentations, statewide.
In Nevada, one in four homes tested show radon concentrations at or above the EPA action level. According to experts, living in a home with radon concentrations at the action level poses a risk of developing lung cancer similar to the risk posed by smoking about half a pack of cigarettes a day.
The risk of radon-caused lung cancer can be reduced. 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. If radon problems are found, they can be fixed. It is recommended to test homes every two years for radon risk.
Extension encourages those who have not tested within the past two years to pick up a free test kit this month. Some Extension and partner offices have regular hours, while other locations have more variable hours. It is recommended to call to check office hours before going to pick up a test kit. In addition, there are currently two free presentations scheduled on the radon risk, where free kits will be available:
In Genoa, Feb. 8, 5:30 p.m., at the Genoa Town Hall, 2287 Main St.
For more information, visit the Nevada Radon Education Program website, or call the Radon Hotline, 775-336-0252.
Extension and the EPA urge all Nevadans to test their homes for radon. The Nevada Radon Education Program is a program of University of Nevada, Reno Extension and is funded by a grant from the EPA. Since the program began in 2007, about 33,900 homes have been tested in Nevada.