Radon testing urged
Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013 8:00 pm
NASHVILLE — January is “Radon Action Month” and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has joined forces with the Department of Health to help educate Tennesseans about the dangers of radon exposure, encouraging actions to identify and to address radon problems in the home.
The American Lung Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and various local and county health departments also serve as partners in this outreach effort, designed to raise awareness about the health risk and the importance of testing.
“Tennesseans can check for the presence of radon with a very simple test,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “These test kits are readily available and inexpensive to buy and we encourage each household to take this important step to safeguard homes from the dangers of exposure to radon.”
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can seep into homes through cracks and openings in the foundation. It cannot be seen, tasted or smelled, but in concentrated levels radon can pose a threat to human health. The EPA estimates that approximately 70 percent of Tennessee’s population lives in high risk or moderate risk radon areas. According to the EPA, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
“Testing for radon is an important and relatively simple step to protect your family from a colorless, odorless and naturally occurring radioactive gas that can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers and nonsmokers,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner John J. Dreyzehner, MD, MPH.
The best time to test is during consistently cold weather, usually from October to March. This is the time of year when doors and windows are shut, so the test results are more representative of in-home exposure. Radon problems can be fixed by qualified contractors for a cost comparable to that of many common household repairs, such as painting or installing a new water heater.
“It is essential to test your home because radon acts unpredictably,” added Martineau. “Nationally, about six percent of homes surveyed had elevated levels of radon. In contrast, 16 percent of Tennessee homes surveyed had elevated levels and in some counties, 33 to 75 percent of homes being tested have elevated levels of radon.”
While radon poses a threat to the community’s health, radon test kits are the first step toward a straightforward solution and are easy to use. In Tennessee, radon test kits can be purchased at most local hardware and home improvement stores.
To learn more about the dangers of radon exposure, visit the Tennessee Department of Health’s Healthy Homes website at http://health.state.tn.us/HealthyHomes/radon.shtml. In addition to radon tips for the home, the Healthy Homes website offers a comprehensive approach to preventing diseases and injuries that result from housing-related hazards and deficiencies.
For additional information about radon, visit TDEC’s website at www.tn.gov/environment/ea/radon or contact the department’s Tennessee Radon Program at 1-800-232-1139.
Published in The Messenger 1.25.13