HHSS Offers Low-Cost Radon Test Kits

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To promote National Radon Action Month and make it easier for Nebraskans to test their homes for radon, the Health and Human Services System will offer low-cost radon test kits during January.

January is Radon Action Month and an opportune time for Nebraskans to test for radon in their homes, according to Sara Morgan, program manager for the Radon Program of the Nebraska Health and Human Services System. During winter, homes are closed up and can trap the toxic gas.

"Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for people who have never smoked," she said. "This is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is present in most Nebraska homes. Everyone should test for radon."

The EPA estimates that approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year are radon-related, second only to tobacco-related lung cancer deaths.

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Radon comes from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in the earth's soil and can accumulate indoors to dangerous levels. It enters homes through cracks or holes in concrete floors or walls, sump pits, and drinking water from private wells. Once trapped inside an enclosed space, radon can accumulate.

People should take action to mitigate the radon level in their home if it is 4 picocuries per liter or above, a health standard set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"The majority of tests conducted in the state report elevated levels of radon. The state average is well above the action level," Morgan said. "To encourage people to get their homes checked, we are offering test kits at the cost of $5 each to Nebraskans during the month of January."

The EPA recommends that houses with radon levels above the health standard be fixed to reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. "The bottom line is, this is one environmental toxin that is easy to identify and reduce exposure to," Morgan said.

For more information, call the Nebraska Radon Hotline at 1-800-334-9491. To order a radon test kit for $5, send a check or money order with name and shipping address to: Radon Program, 301 Centennial Mall South, Lincoln, NE 68509.

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