Tackling a silent danger

Have your home tested this month for exposure to dangerous radon gas
Jan. 08, 2013 @ 01:30 PM

It is a silent danger lurking in far too many homes. It can’t be smelled, and its effects may not be evident for some time.

January is Radon Action Month, and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has joined with the Department of Health to help educate state residents about the dangers of radon exposure.

They hope to encourage residents to identify and deal with radon problems in the home.

This outreach effort is designed to raise awareness about the health risk and the importance of testing. 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 humans. The EPA estimates that approximately 70 percent of Tennessee’s population live in high risk or moderate risk radon areas.

According to the EPA, radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. “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.”

The best time to test is during cold weather, so now is the optimum time. Doors and windows are shut, so the test results are more accurate. Radon problems can be fixed by qualified contractors. It’s not expensive. Officials say it cost about the same to fix a radon problem as to paint or install a water heater.

Nationally, about 6 percent of homes surveyed have 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. That makes testing an essential resolution on anyone’s to-do list for 2013.

Radon test kits can be purchased at most local hardware and home improvement stores. For more information visit the Tennessee Department of Health’s Healthy Homes website at http://health.state.tn.us/HealthyHomes/radon.shtml.