RADON AWARENESS MONTH: What is radon and why is it dangerous?

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) – January is Radon Awareness Month.

But what exactly is radon, and why is it dangerous?

Radon is a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer and in some cases, death.

Iowa has some of the highest radon concentration levels in the country.

RADON

It’s colorless, odorless and tasteless, making radon difficult to detect.

Radon is in the air we breathe, and it is found in soil. It gets trapped inside our homes through cracks and crevices.

Radon attaches to dust particles, and then we inhale it.

TESTING FOR RADON

Penny Andorf, a Black Hawk County health official, said it doesn’t matter where you live or if your home is new or old.

Radon is found everywhere, and the only way to detect it is to have your home tested.

“It is one of the highest causes of lung cancer in non-smokers today,” Andorf said. “It’s just bad. People can die from it. We want them to test.”

You can purchase a radon test kit at the Black Hawk County Health Department for $10. Otherwise, you can have a professional test your home.

WHAT IF RADON IS DETECTED?

If radon is found inside your home, Andorf said there are mitigation services available.

She said you can have a pipe and fan system installed to get rid of the gas.

IOWA AT A GLANCE

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) said an estimated 400 people die each year in Iowa from radon-induced lung cancer. The Iowa DOT said that’s the approximately the same number of Iowans who die in traffic accidents each year.

7 in every 10 homes in Iowa have radon concentration levels higher than EPA’s recommended levels.

Iowa leads the country in percentage of homes over the EPA’s recommended levels.

On average, indoor radon concentration levels in Iowa are more than six times the national average.

NEXT STEPS

Radon kits are sold on the fifth floor of the Black Hawk County Health Department: 1407 Independence Ave., Waterloo.

You can also buy them at hardware stores.

If you’re interested in learning more about radon, visit: https://www.epa.gov/radon

If you’d like to speak with a Black Hawk County health official, you can visit a free radon education event this month:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 9: Waterloo Public Library, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 15: Cedar Falls Public Library, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 22: Cedar Valley Sports Plex, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 23: Cedar Falls Rec Center, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 24: HyVee Logan Ave., from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Monday, Jan. 28: YMCA, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

 

Olivia Schmitt

Olivia Schmitt

Morning Reporter at KWWL
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