2013-01-18 / Front Page

Radon Test Kits Available For Owen Residents At Health Department

Staff Report

The Owen County Health Department currently has Radon test kits to test the air inside a person’s home. The American Lung Association is sponsoring National Radon Awareness Month throughout the month of January. (SEW File Photo)The Owen County Health Department currently has Radon test kits to test the air inside a person’s home. The American Lung Association is sponsoring National Radon Awareness Month throughout the month of January. (SEW File Photo)

In light of National Radon Awareness Month, the American Lung Association of Indiana is promoting radon testing and awareness to all Hoosiers throughout the month of January.

Meghan McNulty, Manager of Respiratory Health and Environmental Programs American Lung Association of Indiana, recently contacted John Reeves, Environmentalist with the Owen County Health Department, regarding Radon screening tests, available free through the American Lung Association.

“Radon is a naturally occurring colorless, odorless radioactive gas that comes from decaying uranium in the soil,” McNulty said. “Radon seeps into the home through cracks and other pathways found in the home’s foundation, and any home can have radon, regardless if the home is new or old. Although there is no pattern for radon detection as it is a result of the components of the soil directly beneath a home, over two-thirds of the counties in Indiana are rated at Zone One and have on average a predicted radon screening level of more than 4 pCi/L. Radon is especially dangerous due to the fact that it is the second leading cause of lung cancer, but also because many people are not aware of the dangers of radon.”

Homeowners are urged to test their homes for the substance, however, the only way to tell the level within a given home is to specifically test for radon.

“This is part of a part of a program we have at the American Lung Association that addresses indoor air quality. The reason these kits are completely free is because we are largely funded in-part by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for the state’s indoor radon grant,” McNulty explained. “We have now decided to move forward with the initiate and sent out these kits that John received, to all of the health departments in the state. We are just asking their help in promoting radon awareness.”

The Owen County Health Department currently has plenty of testing kits in stock.

“It’s difficult to pin-point specifically how much one person will be affected, because it has to do with the soil that is directly beneath someone’s home,” McNulty noted. “It can vary from state to state, region to region and even from house to house within a neighborhood. Someone who has very high levels of radon in their home, their neighbor may not have any radon in their home. It is something that occurs naturally, so it’s something that will be happening. It’s in our environment outside; it’s just a problem when it gets inside of a home. It tends to get trapped inside the home and dissipate into the atmosphere.”

McNulty explained a natural occurrence of radon at approximately .2 to .4 pCi/L, is considered normal, average or safe. Anything above these marks can be a health hazard.

“It is kind of like carbon monoxide in that it affects people over a longer period of time,” McNulty said. “Where as carbon monoxide is imminent in its effects, radon is something that must build up, with chronic exposure to it even- tually effecting you over time. Radon accounts for 15 percent of lung cancer cases.”

According to McNulty, exposure will not bring on any symptoms of illness besides those of the eventual lung cancer.

“It is not directly related to when the house was built. There are other things besides radon creeping in through the basement or crawl space,” McNulty added. “Having natural stone in your home, in large quantities, can also affect it. Not like stone sculptors, but if people have slate pool tables, granite counter tops or marble flooring those can also lead to increased levels of radon in a home. If people do need to get their home mitigated for radon, that can be quite costly. The minimum for getting a home mitigated safely is usually around $800 to $1,200, but can cost up to $2,500.”

McNulty also noted that radon is drawn to dust particles and lead.

“If people keep their home clean, that can reduce radon levels,” McNulty said. “If you have someone who has a living room, family room or bedroom in the basement, then it would probably be a very good thing to at least have it tested and see where you sit.”

For more information, contact the Owen County Health Department at 829-5017.

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