National Radon Action Month promotes ways to reduce radon exposure
If you knew that an odorless and invisible cancer-causing gas were quietly seeping into your home, you would probably do something about it, wouldn’t you? Helping people lead healthier lives by doing something about indoor radon gas is what National Radon Action Month, promoted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is about.
Radon gas, the second leading cause of lung cancer, forms by the radioactive decay of naturally occurring uranium in rocks and sediments, which is why the Kentucky Geological Survey works with other UK programs to conduct research and spread the word about radon hazards and solutions.
Using results from more than 70,000 home radon test kits and Kentucky’s pioneering statewide digital geologic maps, KGS and UK College of Nursing researchers compared indoor radon levels with bedrock types across the commonwealth to develop the country’s most detailed indoor radon potential map. Public health experts from the UK College of Nursing’s BREATHE initiative (Bridging Research Efforts and Advocacy Toward Healthy Environments) have worked with KGS geologists to create county-specific radon information sheets based on the statewide map. The KGS radon web page has links to sheets for each of Kentucky’s 120 counties, information about the creation of the Kentucky statewide radon map, and a link to an interactive version of the statewide map that lets users zoom in to their own neighborhoods for detailed information. The BREATHE website has additional radon information for health-care professionals, policy makers, and citizens.
People who are exposed to both tobacco smoke and radon in their homes are almost 10 times more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers in low-radon homes. Kentucky’s cigarette smoking rate is second only to West Virginia among U.S. states, which makes testing their homes especially important for Kentuckians.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health has information about the dangers of radon and smoking on its new Radon in Kentucky Story Map developed for Radon Action Month.
What can you do to protect your home and family from the invisible danger of radon?
- Follow the web links above to learn about radon and its dangers.
- Test your home. Kentucky residents can call their county or district health department to learn if free radon test kits are available. Many home improvement stores sell inexpensive home test kits for as little as $10 and commercial radon contractors offer radon tests using more sophisticated electronic detectors.
- If radon levels in your home are high, contact a qualified radon remediation company.
- If you are building a new home, include radon-resistant features in the design. EPA has a state-by-state directory of builders who use radon-resistant construction.