From Post staff reports
Wilson County Mayor Robert Dedman has proclaimed January as Radon Action Month encouraging local residents to test their homes for the colorless, odorless naturally occurring radioactive gas that can threaten your health.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have joined together to encourage all Americans to test their homes, mitigate elevated levels of radon and build new houses with radon-resistant materials and features.
Gov. Phil Bredesen also proclaimed January as Radon Action Month for the state.
According to the proclamation signed by Dedman, “radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in the United States and the number one cause among non-smokers.”
In addition, it said, “one in 15 homes across the U.S. has an elevated radon level,” and that “any home in Wilson County may have an elevated level of radon, even if other homes in the same neighborhood do not.”
Tests for radon are simple and inexpensive, and radon problems can be fixed.
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that seeps out of the ground and can enter homes and other buildings through cracks or openings in foundations. Because it is odorless and invisible, the only way to know if a home has dangerous levels of the gas is to conduct a radon test.
Radon problems have been found in every county in the U.S., according to a release from the EPA, so the U.S. Surgeon General recommends that all homes be tested.
The EPA estimates that approximately 70 percent of Tennessee’s population lives in high risk or moderate risk radon areas.
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 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.
In Tennessee, radon test kits can be purchased at most local hardware and home improvement stores, through the American Lung Association or by calling the Tennessee Radon Hotline at 1-800-232-1139. Limited quantities of free test kits are available. In addition, Tennesseans can have access to a free radon test kit within their county by visiting the local county Ground Water Protection office.
“Tennesseans can check for the presence of radon in the home with a simple test,” Bredesen said. “I encourage each household to take this important step to protect the health of loved ones from the dangers of exposure to radon.”
“Testing is such a smart and vital step in protecting your home environment, as radon acts unpredictably,” said Amy Little of the Tennessee Radon Program. “Nationally, about 6 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- 75 percent of homes being tested have elevated levels of radon.”
Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), and the EPA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend homes with radon levels at 4 pCi/L or higher should be fixed. EPA also recommends that Americans consider fixing their homes for radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L.
For more information, visit www.tn.gov/enviornment/ea/radon or email TDEC.Radon@tn.gov or call 1-800-232-1139.