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Existing and new homes should be tested for radon

Armen Hareyan's picture

You can't see it, you can't smell it, and you can't taste it, but radon may be present in your home. Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless, and tasteless gas that is dispersed in outdoor air and can reach harmful levels when trapped in buildings.

Radon is found in a majority of homes, as Iowa leads the nation for the highest percentage of homes with elevated indoor radon levels. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) says approximately 72% of basements or levels in contact with soil have high radon. Other levels of Iowa homes have about half the measurement found in the basement.

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"To determine if a home has increased radon levels, all existing and newly constructed homes should have an indoor radon test," said IDPH's radon program coordinator Rick Welke. "Radon problems discovered should be repaired by a qualified contractor. Iowans building new homes should ensure the building includes radon resistant new construction techniques."

Scientists have long been concerned that exposure to elevated levels of radon causes lung cancer in humans. In Iowa, radon causes nearly 12 percent of lung cancers or approximately 200 lung cancers per year. In the U.S., radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

Testing homes for elevated levels of radon is simple and inexpensive. The Iowa Air Coalition is able to provide a radon testing kit for $5 and can be ordered by calling 1-800-206-7818. Radon test kits can also be purchased at local hardware or home improvement stores or directly from radon testing companies.