Summit County government announced this week it is offering free radon testing kits to residents and are encouraging locals to test for the poisonous carcinogen before summer arrives.
Radon, a cancer-causing radioactive gas that naturally occurs at high levels in Summit County, is most easily and accurately detected inside buildings during colder weather, according to a Summit County news release, when residents tend to keep doors and windows closed most of the time.
“The high levels of radon we see in Summit County make it especially important for local residents to test for it in their homes,” said Summit County Environmental Health specialist Maya Kulick in the release. “The good news is that we provide free test kits, the testing process is quick and easy, and for those who do find unsafe levels of radon in their homes, there are effective options for remediation.”
Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that occurs naturally in soils, rock and water. It escapes into the air and makes its way into a building through the foundation, gaps around pipes and construction joints. The building traps the gas, causing it to accumulate over time.
Breathing air that contains radon increases an individual’s risk for lung cancer, the release stated. Radon is the second- leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, responsible for an estimated 21,000 deaths each year.
Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths, the release stated. Individuals who smoke and have high levels of radon in their homes have especially high risk for lung cancer.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends radon-reduction activity in buildings with radon levels of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) or higher. Summit County Environmental Health has found that local homes have average radon levels of 10 pCi/L.
Comparatively, the average indoor radon level in the United States is 1.3 pCi/L. Outdoor radon levels in the United States average about 0.4 pCi/L. Homes are the primary buildings for concern related to radon, because people generally spend more time there than in any other buildings.
Summit County Environmental Health offers free radon test kits for residents. Short-term kits monitor radon over a period of three to seven days, and long-term kits assess levels over three to 12 months.
The kits are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday in the Summit County Environmental Health offices in the County Commons, 0037 Peak One Drive in Frisco. Summit County also will provide free radon test kits at the 9Health Fair from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 5 at Summit High School.
“We strongly encourage residents to take advantage of this free service,” Kulick said. “With just a small investment of your time, you can determine whether radon is posing a health risk in your home.”
Although radon levels in Summit County are significantly higher than the rest of the nation, Kulick said it’s not necessarily due to local soils being abnormally poisonous. According to the EPA’s map of U.S. Radon Zones, radon levels are fairly consistent throughout the country, but it’s Summit County’s geology that contributes to high levels of the naturally occurring gas in local homes.
“A big part of it is we have rocky soil,” Kulick said. “Rocky soil is more porous, which allows radon to escape more easily than other areas in the country.”
Homes found to have unsafe levels of radon generally don’t require major changes to address the problem. A certified radon mitigator can seal cracks and install venting systems and fans that cost- effectively reduce radon levels inside a home.
The cost of radon mitigation averages from $1,000 to $2,500, Kulick said. Costs vary depending on the size, condition and design of each home. For example, houses featuring a crawl space can be more expensive to mitigate than one with a basement, Kulick said.
For more information on radon, indoor air quality or obtaining a free radon test kit, contact Kulick at 668-4070 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information also is available online at www.co.summit.co.us/radon.
Summit County Environmental Health, a division of Summit County Public Health, works to control environmental factors that impact human health and the environment. The department addresses issues such as food sanitation, air quality, water quality, and communicable diseases.