Radon can’t be seen or smelled but it can be deadly and Iowa has some of the highest radon concentrations in the nation. January is Radon Action Month. Doug Clark, an environmental health specialist in Omaha-Council Bluffs, is urging homeowners to have their houses tested for the potentially-dangerous gas.
Radon is a killer and is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, number-two only behind smoking. The E-P-A estimates that one in every 15 homes nationwide has a level of radon at or above the recommended action level — but in Iowa, the levels are significantly higher. Clark says there’s nothing Iowans can do to prevent radon from getting into their homes, as it’s a natural process.
Clark says, “The breakdown or decay of elements in the soil such as uranium and radium (creates the) gas that’s odorless and colorless.” He says there are no obvious signs radon is in your house. It doesn’t cause headaches, nausea, sneezing or other symptoms. Clark says the only way Iowans can find out if they have a radon problem is to get a radon testing kit.
“Set them up in one of the lower levels of your house and what they do is absorb any radon in the air and then you send them in for analysis.” Clark says the Midwest has exceptionally elevated radon levels. A recent study found nearly 60-percent of Iowa homes test above the “action level” set by the E-P-A.
“The central part of the nation, including Nebraska and Iowa are some of the areas where you find some of the highest levels of radon.” Clark says you can buy a radon test kit for ten to 20-dollars at most hardware stores and home centers. For more information, visit: “www.epa.gov/radon“.