Northwest Iowa — People hear about radon quite often in public service announcements of one type or another, but the Iowa Department of Public Health says radon is even more of a concern for Iowa homes than homes in other parts of the country.
That’s Mindy Uhle, with the Iowa Department of Public Health. The state of Iowa is believed to have the largest percentage of homes in the U.S. with radon levels above what the Environmental Protection Agency calls “acceptable.” Uhle says at least half of the homes in the state have an elevated radon level.
In fact, in a map designating radon action levels, not only is every county in the entire state in “zone one,” but so are many counties in many of the states surrounding Iowa. And “zone one” is “priority one”. In other words, as far as radon levels in homes, it doesn’t get any worse than “zone one”. That’s why experts are especially encouraging Iowans to test their homes. They say five out of seven homes in Iowa have a radon level above a safe level.
Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that causes no immediate health symptoms, but long-term exposures may cause lung cancer. It comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil. Uhle encourages all homeowners to purchase a radon test kit, which typically costs less than $20.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Lung Association, and other partners have announced a strategy for preventing 3,200 lung cancer deaths annually by 2020 through radon exposure reduction strategies.
The National Radon Action Plan: A Strategy for Saving Lives sets out strategies to drive the changes needed to reduce exposure to radon. Strategies include requiring radon testing and reduction systems as a standard practice in housing finance and insurance programs, and institutionalizing radon risk reduction through building code requirements. For more information, you can visit radonplan.org.
The Iowa Department of Public Health has announced Governor Terry Branstad will sign a formal proclamation January 7, 2016, declaring January as “Radon Action Month” in Iowa.
To order a test kit or learn additional information about radon, call the RadonHotline at 1-800-383-5992. To learn more about radon, visit http://idph.iowa.gov/radon. Short videos explaining what radon is, how it enters your home and how testing is conducted may be found at http://bit.ly/1PsurYP.