January is National Radon Action Month and the Nevada Radon Education Program of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) will offer two radon education programs in Douglas County in January. The first program is Monday, Jan. 7, at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 128 Market St., in Stateline at 6:00 p.m. Another is offered Wednesday, Jan. 9, at the Carson Valley Improvement Club (CVIC) Hall, 1604 Esmeralda Ave., in Minden, at 6:00 p.m. Attendees can learn about the radon health risk, and how to test for and fix radon problems. A certified radon mitigator will also present information on radon mitigation and free radon test kits will be offered.
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that emanates from the rock and soil. It can accumulate in buildings and can cause lung cancer. Most people associate lung cancer with smoking, but radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Every year, radon-induced lung cancer kills more people than secondhand smoke, drunk driving, falls in the home, drowning or home fires. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 21,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer caused by indoor radon exposure.
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.
Test results show that 40 percent of the homes tested for radon in Douglas County found radon levels over the EPA Action Level of 4 picoCuries per liter of air (pCi/l). More than 70 percent of Stateline homes tested had elevated radon levels, followed by Glenbrook at 63 percent, Zephyr Cove with 58 percent, and Gardnerville 42 percent. Minden homes had 24 percent with elevated radon levels and Genoa homes 17 percent.
Although test results have shown a high probability for elevated radon levels in the county, you can’t predict which homes will have a radon problem, as two neighboring homes can have very different radon levels. That is why UNCE, EPA and the Nevada State Health Division urge all Nevadans to get their homes tested for radon. Free radon test kits are available to Douglas County residents throughout the year at the Douglas County UNCE office, 1329 Waterloo in Gardnerville, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 775-782-9960 for more information.
Radon can enter any home – old or new, well-sealed or drafty. Even homes crawl spaces, slab on grade, 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 beneath the house. The only way to know a building’s radon levels is to test. If high levels of radon are found, there is a way to reduce or mitigate radon levels.
For more information, visit the Nevada Radon Education Program website, www.RadonNV.com, or call the Radon Hotline, 888-RADON10 (888-723-6610).