Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today, according to the Surgeon General. And for non-smokers, it is the first.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is released from the decay of uranium in the soil. When radon enters homes it accumulates and can cause serious health problems, such as an increased risk of lung cancer.
“Radon is classified as a Class A carcinogen like arsenic and asbestos,” says Kim Steves from the Radiation Control Program at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).
Steves adds, “We strongly encourage all Kansas citizens to test their homes for radon, to fix (mitigate) any homes which have elevated radon levels, and to build all new homes using radon resistant new construction methods.”
Given information on the significant health risks of radon, one may wonder why many Douglas County residents are unaware of radon in the home. Likely it's because radon is colorless and odorless, which make it impossible to detect without the use of a testing kit.
Fortunately, testing kits are available for purchase at the K-State Research and Extension Office – Douglas County located at 2110 Harper in Lawrence, KS. Testing kits cost $5 and are easy to use. For more information about purchasing a radon testing kit, call 785-843-7058.
Richard Ziesenis, director of Environmental Health at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department reports, “One out of every three homes tested for radon within Douglas County were higher than the EPA limit of 4 picocuries/liter. This is approximately 500 homes out of 1500 homes tested, so it is clear that we do have high levels of radon in Douglas County and it is highly recommended that all Douglas County homes be tested.”
Ziesenis also emphasizes that, “Health risks from Radon, like cigarettes, are completely preventable.” If home levels are high, repairs can be made to reduce the radon gas to safer levels.
There are certified radon measurement and mitigation technicians who are trained to improve homes to reduce radon levels. KDHE recently published a list of Kansas Certified Radon Measurement and Mitigation Technicians.
For more information visit the Kansas Radon Program website.