Spring is here and that means it is time to think about spring cleaning. One part of the home we often overlook, when it comes to cleaning, is the indoor air we breathe. When we think about indoor air quality we should think about radon. According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, over 70% of homes tested in Richardson County have levels of radon in the indoor air that exceed EPA’s action level.
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is a naturally occurring byproduct of the radioactive decay of Uranium in the soil. It enters homes through cracks and crevices in the foundation or through crawl spaces below the structure. Radon can get into any type of building – houses, offices, schools, etc. – but researchers suggest that people are most likely to receive their greatest exposure to radon at home, simply because that’s where they spend the greatest amount of their time.
Radon is of concern to health because studies have linked radon to an increased risk for the development of lung cancer. Behind smoking radon is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer and is the leading cause of lung cancer in people who have never smoked.
There is no “safe” level when it comes to radon, but the lower the amount of radon in indoor air, the lower the risk. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set an action level of 4.0 pCi/L. Due to the soil types in southeast Nebraska most counties have an average level that exceed the action level, in Richardson County the average radon level is 8.3 pCi/L. Fortunately, with today’s mitigation technologies radon levels in homes can be brought down to well below this action level.
Radon’s entry into the home is driven by air pressure fluctuations that are unique to each structure. Because of this two houses next door to each other can have completely different levels. The only way to know if your home has elevated levels of radon is to test for it.
Testing is inexpensive and you can do it yourself. Nebraska Extension in Richardson County is encouraging homeowners to test their homes. To make testing easier Nebraska Extension in Johnson County has secured a grant from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to provide free radon test kits to residents in the area (limited supplies are available).
This is a great opportunity to find out if your home is a healthy home. Nebraska Extension in Richardson County encourages homeowners who have not yet tested for radon to stop in and pick up a kit. Nebraska Extension in Richardson County is located at 1700 Stone Street in Falls City. Our regular office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you have questions please call us at: 402-245-4324.