Testing homes for radon gas is now more important than ever

by | Jan 10, 2023 | Safety

State program urges home testing during Radon Action Month

PORTLAND, Ore.— The best time to test for radon is during the heating season – the winter months – when windows and doors are closed tight. It’s why Oregon Health Authority (OHA) recognizes National Radon Action Month during January by encouraging people to test their homes for the odorless, tasteless, invisible gas.

Many parts of Oregon remain at risk of high radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes up from the ground and is drawn into buildings, where it can build up to dangerous levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking, and it’s the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

But people can take steps to reduce their exposure to radon by testing their homes for the gas and, if necessary, hiring a professional to reduce radon to a safe level.

“Now, more than ever, we are spending more time in our homes. That means more exposure to potentially high radon levels,” said Jara Popinga, OHA’s Radon Awareness Program coordinator. “The only way to know if you have a high radon level is to test. The best time to test for radon is during the heating season or colder months when the windows and doors are closed for long periods of time.”

Many test kits are priced between $20 and $30 and can be found in most hardware stores or available for purchase from online retailers. High radon levels can be fixed by a certified radon professional for a cost similar to that of common home repairs ranging between $2,000 and $3,000, such as painting or having a new water heater installed.

The Radon Awareness Program collects radon test data from test kit manufacturers to understand which areas of the state have the potential for high radon levels and to identify regions where educational outreach efforts need to be focused. The program is offering a free radon test kit to residents whose homes are in ZIP codes with fewer than 20 radon test results. Residents can learn more about the free radon test kit program and how to apply at www.healthoregon.org/radon. Free test kits are available while supplies last.

For more information on which areas of the state are at moderate to high risk of elevated radon levels, radon testing and mitigation or to order a test kit online, contact the Radon Awareness Program at [email protected] or visit www.healthoregon.org/radon.

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