Reducing high indoor radon levels can lower cancer risk
Test kits are a simple way to protect your family from this health hazard
In recognition of National Radon Action Month, Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, MD, MPH, is encouraging Ohioans to test their homes for the radioactive gas this January and take steps to reduce risk if elevated levels are detected.
“Long-term exposure to high levels of radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer overall and the top cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers,” Dr. Acton said. “Running this easy, inexpensive test is an important first step in protecting your family from a devastating disease that kills thousands of Ohioans each year.”
Colorless and odorless, radon is produced naturally with the decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It can migrate into any type of home through cracks or openings in the foundation.
According to data collected by the ODH Radon Education and Licensing Program, elevated levels of the gas have been found in homes in all 88 Ohio counties. It’s estimated that such levels are present in about half of all Ohio homes.
Alternatively, have your home evaluated by a radon tester licensed by ODH to follow specific protocols. Find licensed testers here.
Test your home every two years or after renovations, including the installation of windows, exterior doors, insulation, a roof, or a furnace or air conditioner.
If elevated levels are detected, it is important to act to protect yourself and your family. ODH also licenses radon mitigation contractors, who can be found here. Before hiring a contractor, use ODH’s locator, get more than one estimate, ask for references, and check with a reliable consumer group.
Radon is measured in picocuries, which indicate the gas’ rate of radioactive decay. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that indoor levels under 4 picocuries per liter of air (4pCi/l).
Mitigation often involves sealing cracks in the foundation and installing PVC pipe and a fan to pull radon from underneath a home’s foundation and vent it to the outdoors. ODH does not recommend sealing alone.
The ODH Radon Education and Licensing Program is federally funded and works in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local health departments across Ohio.
For general questions about radon's health effects or to discuss radon testing, contact ODH radon education staff at 1-800-523-4439 or firstname.lastname@example.org.