University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Radon Education Program (NREP) was presented with a proclamation from Governor Brian Sandoval designating January 2013 as National Radon Action Month in Nevada. The presentation was held in conjunction with the Radon Poster Contest Award Ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 3 at the close of a radon seminar at the Washoe County Cooperative Extension office in Reno. Governor Sandoval’s Constituent Services representative, Pierron Tackes, presented the proclamation on behalf of the governor and also participated in the awards ceremony. Tackes presented the winners with a special certificate of recognition signed by Gov. Sandoval.
“The Office of the Governor is pleased to present this proclamation for National Radon Action Month in Nevada,” said Tackes. “Radon is an important issue within our state and the Nevada Radon Education Program has done a wonderful job of educating on the importance of taking action with radon testing and mitigation.”
Poster contest winners in attendance for the ceremony were 1st place winner, Ivory Tuyet Nguyen Rok, an 8th grade student at Mendive Middle School in Sparks, 3rd place winner, Carolena McGrapth, a 7th grader from Pine Middle School in Reno, and 5th place tie winner, Michael Connors, an 8th grader at Mendive Middle School. In addition to the Governor’s certificate of recognition, the students received award checks, a certificate of participation from NREP and a special bag of radon goodies and information. Two of the students’ teachers, Julie Steiner of Mendive Middle School, and Laura Dale of Pine Middle School, were not in attendance but will also receive a cash award to be used for classroom supplies.
The Las Vegas area winners will receive their certificates and award checks at a special awards ceremony on Jan. 16, at 4:30 p.m., at the Clark County Cooperative Extension office, 8050 Paradise Road, in Las Vegas.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is present in rocks and soil. It can accumulate in buildings and can cause lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 21,000 Americans die each year from radon-induced lung cancer, killing more people than secondhand smoke, drunk driving, falls in the home, drowning or house fires. The EPA recommends citizens make reparations to homes if radon levels reach 4 picoCuries per liter of air (pCi/l) or higher. According to experts, living in a home with an average radon level of 4 pCi/l poses a similar risk of developing lung cancer to smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day.
In Nevada, one in four homes tested have found elevated radon levels, as 3,044 out of 11,716 valid test results were at or above the EPA Action Level of 4 pCi/l.
Radon can enter any home – old or new, well-sealed or drafty. Even homes with slab on grade, crawl spaces, basements or invisible foundation cracks are susceptible. Variables that determine radon levels include how the home was constructed, lifestyle factors and the strength of the radon source near or beneath the house. The only way to know a building’s radon level is to test. If high levels of radon are found, there is a way to reduce or mitigate radon levels.
Radon-induced lung cancer is highly preventable. A simple three-day test can determine if a house has a radon problem and winter is an ideal time to test a home for radon. When a home is closed up during cooler weather months, radon concentrations typically increase.
One can’t predict which homes will have high radon levels, as two neighboring homes can have vastly different radon levels. That is why UNCE, the Nevada State Health Division, and the EPA urge all Nevadans to get their homes tested for radon. Free radon test kits during the months of January and February are available at Cooperative Extension offices statewide.
As part of National Radon Action Month activities, NREP provides radon seminar presentations across the state during January. For radon presentation and radon test kit distribution locations, visit the UNCE radon website at www.RadonNV.com, or call the Radon Hotline at 1-888-RADON-10 (888-723-6610).