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Radon is a Serious Hazard

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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Did you know one out of every two radon tests conducted in the state have elevated levels of radon? January is National Radon Action Month. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Radon is a radioactive gas you can’t see, smell or taste. It moves through the soil and into the atmosphere or home. Radon usually enters through the basement or lowest level of the home. It comes through cracks, loose fitting pipes, sump pits, dirt floors, slab joints or block walls.

It is recommended all homes be tested. Winter is a good time to do testing as you get the best results when a closed home is maintained for 12 hours prior to and during the test. This means all windows closed, and entry/exit is kept to a minimum. Tests should be taken at the lowest level of the home. A short term test (48-72 hours) is the suggested way to assess exposure to radon. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has set 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) as the "recommended action level." Homes showing a level of 4 pCi/L should do a long term test. Long-term tests run 3 months to one year and often gives a better annual average of your radon exposure, since it can take into account the seasonal variations of radon.

The State Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Radon Program no longer sells radon test kits from the office in Lincoln. However, existing partnerships allow Nebraskans to obtain a free or low-cost test kit when they want to test radon levels in a home.

Special pricing for Nebraska residents can be obtained by purchasing a test kit from Air Chek, Inc. or Accustar. To order a low-cost test kit from Air Chek, Inc. visit: http://securechek.com/cgi-bin/oo.cgi?product_id=60&ooname=NE

Accustar sells long-term test kits at a low-cost to Nebraskans when you call 1-800-523-4964 and mention NEBRASKA. More information about Accustar products can be found at: http://www.accustarlabs.com/Default.aspx

Radon test kits can often be found at local hardware stores or home centers, as well.

Visit the State Radon Website at http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/radon or the EPA Website at http://www.epa.gov/radon for more information. Most new homes are built with radon resistant construction, but it is also good to test new homes.

Make sure your home and family are safe by testing your home this winter.


Ask Lorene

(This resource was updated January 2013 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

Contact Information

University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68528 | 402-441-7180