Free radon test kits available from heatlh department

WATSEKA — The Iroquois County Public Health Department is offering free radon test kits during January, which is designated as National Radon Action Month by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

To pick up a test kit, people can stop by the health department’s office at 1001 E. Grant St. in Watseka between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The purpose of the U.S. EPA’s designation of January as National Radon Action Month is to remind the public of the serious danger that radon gas poses in homes.

It is estimated that radon causes about 21,000 deaths from lung cancer annually in the U.S., with 2,900 of those deaths occurring among people who have never smoked, according to Terry Eimen, director of environmental health for the Iroquois County Public Health Department.

The U.S. Surgeon General warns that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

Eimen describes radon as a natural radioactive gas that is released in rock, soil and water from the natural decay of uranium. 

“One of the problems with radon is that it is colorless, odorless and tasteless,” said Eimen. “The only way to tell if you have radon gas in your home is to test for it with a test kit.”

Eimen said it is imperative for the public to know that about one in 15 homes has high radon levels. The recommended action level to fix a home is four Picocurie per liter (pCi/L). If a home’s test results are at two pCi/L, the homeowner should consider fixing their home.

So what is the risk of having radon in your home? At level 4pCi/L, the radon you inhale is the same as: smoking eight cigarettes per day or having 200 chest X-rays per year. The risk at 2pCi/L is the same as smoking four cigarettes per day or having 100 chest X-rays per year. So at 10pCi/L, the risk is like smoking more than a pack of cigarettes a day.

“It is not a difficult test to conduct,” Eimen said about the radon test. “Basically, you have to open the test kit, put in the filter and hang it in the lowest level of your living space for about three days, and then you just pull out the filter, seal it up and mail it in.  Even the postage is paid. Test results will be sent to the user either by mail, e-mail or both.”

Eimen recommends people test their homes annually.

For more information regarding radon, individuals may call the health department (815-432-2483), visit the U.S. EPA’s website to promote National Radon Action Month (www.epa.gov/radon/nram/index.html) or visit the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website (www.idph.gov).
 

Categories (3):News, Miscellaneous, Health

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