Health Department Advises Radon Testing in all Knox County Homes
January 26, 2016 - 6:50 PM
MOUNT VERNON - Knox County continues to rank 2nd
in Ohio for high radon levels and probably always will due to the geological
makeup of the county’s soil. So, the best thing to do is test your home to make
sure you and your family are not at risk.
“Most people don't take radon
seriously because its effects are not felt immediately, as with carbon monoxide
or natural gas,” said Kyle Shackle, a licensed radon tester with the Knox
County Health Department. “Fortunately
or unfortunately, radon takes a while to cause harm, but when it does, it can
Radon is a natural radioactive
gas that gets into your home through cracks or openings in the foundation. If
large amounts of radon accumulate in the air in your house for long periods of
time, it can cause lung cancer. For tobacco smokers, the risk from longtime
exposure triples the chance of cancer.
“Now through March is a good
time to test for radon, when windows and doors are closed tight to keep out the
cold winter air,” said Shackle. To help detect if there is a harmful level of
radon in your home, the health department promotes the use of free radon test
kits for individual testing by homeowners, homebuyers, landlords and tenants.
“In-home testing is the only way to test for radon,” said Shackle.
Radon can get into any type of
building including homes, offices and schools, but you are most likely to get
your greatest exposure at home because you spend most of your time there
(including the six to eight hours you spend sleeping). Radon usually does not
present a health risk outdoors because it is diluted in the open air. However,
it can build up to dangerous levels inside a house.
Sometimes the air pressure
between the inside of a building and the soil around it also play an important
role in radon entry. If the air pressure of a house is greater than the soil
beneath it, radon will remain outside. However, if the air pressure of a house
is lower than the surrounding soil (which is usually the case), the house will
act as a vacuum, pulling the radon gas inside. The most vulnerable areas are
basements and first-floor living areas.
Testing by the Ohio Department
of Health has indicated some levels of concern for area residents. Test levels
as high as 500 picocuries (pCi) per liter air have been found in Knox County
homes. A level of 4 pCi or above is considered unsafe according to the EPA.
“If a reading is greater than 10
pCi in the initial short term test, we recommend a second test to properly
evaluate the extent of the problem,” said Shackle. “In most cases the control
measures can be minor such as improving air circulation, sealing of cracks in
basement floors and walls and venting of sumps. However, in some cases, a
licensed radon mitigator may have to be hired to install a radon mitigation
system to lower the elevated levels.”
Knox County residents can order
a free radon test kit by going to the health department website, www.knoxhealth.com. Click on the Your Community tab, then
the Environmental button and finally the Radon page. At the top of the page
there is a link to order the free test kit. The link is for Knox County
residents only. For those who don’t have internet access, you can contact
Shackle at the health department, who can order a test kit for you. Contact
Shackle at 392-2200, ext. 2227 or email@example.com
Detailed, but simple
instructions accompany each test kit. The actual testing takes from 3-7 days.
The test kit is then mailed to a laboratory for processing. There is no charge
for the processing and the kit comes in a postage-paid package. Test results
are available in 1-2 weeks.
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