January Is National Radon Action Month
American Lung Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7, and Kansas Department of Health and Environment are urging residents to take a stand to protect their families by testing their homes for an odorless, colorless, tasteless pollutant that can cause lung cancer. That pollutant, radon gas, is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and the first leading cause of lung cancer in individuals who have never smoked. EPA estimates that 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year are radon-related.
Radon is going undetected in homes across the country. It causes no immediate health symptoms, but long-term exposure can be deadly. EPA estimates that as many as one in 15 homes across the U.S. has elevated radon levels. Some areas have higher levels than others. Kansas radon measurement data currently shows approximately 40 percent of measurements performed in Kansas are elevated (14,344 out of 35,645 measurements).
Simple test kits can reveal the amount of radon in any building. Those with high levels can be fixed with simple and affordable venting techniques. Topeka, Lawrence, and Manhattan building codes require new homes to be built using radon-resistant techniques, and additional cities in Kansas are considering this modification to their building codes. Testing is critical, because it is the only way to know if a building has significant concentrations of radon.
Radon test kits can be obtained by contacting your Kansas county extension office or calling the American Lung Association at (800) LUNGUSA (586-4872). They can also be purchased at many local hardware and builder's supply stores. A list of certified testers and radon mitigation contractors is also available from the state program office by calling the Kansas Radon Hotline.
Kansas citizens who are considering building a new home should request their homebuilder to use radon resistant techniques to reduce radon levels in their new home. Additional information on these techniques can be obtained from the Kansas Radon Program.