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Summit County Public Health announces Radon Action Month

1/23/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

SUMMIT COUNTY — Summit County Public Health would like to make the public aware that January is Radon Action Month.

According to agency officials, radon is a serious health risk, and breathing radon in your home can increase the risk of lung cancer. Radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer among people who do not smoke and the second-leading cause of lung cancer for smokers, according to agency officials.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) estimates that radon causes more than 20,000 deaths from lung cancer each year in the United States. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that all homes be tested for radon gas.

Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless, radioactive gas released in rock, soil and water. Radon seeps in through cracks, floor drains, pipes penetrating floors and walls, openings around sump pumps and other areas in the lowest level of buildings and homes. This can happen in new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes on a slab or with a basement, according to agency officials.

Radon levels can vary greatly from home to home. Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), a measurement of radioactivity. In the United States, the average indoor radon level is about 1.3 pCi/L. The average outdoor level is about 0.4 pCi/L. Radon has been found in every county in Ohio. In Summit County, average radon levels range between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. 

The U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. EPA recommend fixing or mitigating homes with radon levels at or above 4 pCi/L. The EPA also recommends fixing homes with radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L.

To fix higher radon levels, a basic system is installed that consists of a PVC pipe with a small fan that carries radon from under the house and out the PVC pipe through the roof. Agency officials recommend using an Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Licensed Radon Contractor. They are listed on the ODH webpage, under Radon Licensing at www.odh.ohio.gov. (Choose “R” from the “A-Z Index” to access the “Radon” section.)

“Testing your house for radon is easy. A free, short-term test kit is available from Summit County Public Health through an ODH Indoor Radon Grant. Download a free coupon at www.scphoh.org [click on “Environmental Health,” then “Healthy Homes”] and send for a radon test kit,” said Bob Hasenyager, director of environmental health for Summit County Public Health.

The free radon test kit and one page of instructions with photos will be mailed to your home. The best time to test is when doors and windows are closed during the cold months. After sending the test kit back, the company will send radon results to the homeowner in about two weeks.

For details on radon testing, call 330-926-5632.

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