January Is Radon Action Month
Governor Chet Culver has proclaimed January as "Radon Action Month" in Iowa. Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that can cause lung cancer. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates up to 70 percent of Iowa homes have elevated radon levels.
While radon gas causes no immediate health symptoms, long-term exposure can cause lung cancer. The EPA estimates 399 Iowans die each year because of radon-related lung cancer. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is urging Iowans to test their homes for radon.
IDPH Radon program manager Rick Welke recommends testing all homes and apartments in Iowa. "Testing is critical," said Welke. "It's the only way to know if a building has significant concentrations of radon." Welke says if radon levels are found to be too high, there are simple and affordable venting techniques that can lower the gas to an acceptable level.
Radon gas seeps into a house the same way air or other soil gases enter: from the soil around and under the home; through cracks in the foundation, floor or walls; through hollow-block walls; and through openings around floor drains, pipes and sump pumps. Radon has been detected in new and old homes, and in homes with or without basements.
Test kits are simple to use and typically cost less than $20. They can be obtained by calling the Iowa AIR Coalition of Public Health Officials at 800-206-7818.