Radon: Is it in your home?

Editor's Note: Megan Long co-wrote JoAnne Skelly's column this week.

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension has a new radon awareness program. Radon, a radioactive gas, is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in America. It claims the lives of about 20,000 Americans each year, but exposure to it is preventable. With January being National Radon Action Month, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension are urging all Nevadans to protect their health by testing their homes for radon.

Radon comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It is found throughout the United States. It moves up from the ground to the air above it and migrates into your home through cracks, joints, gaps and wall cavities. According to the EPA, nearly one out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have elevated radon levels.

You can't see, smell or taste radon, but it could be present at a dangerous level in your home. If a high radon level is detected in your home, you can take steps to fix the problem to protect yourself and your family. Testing is the only way to know if there is a dangerous level of radon in your home.

Winter is a good time to test for radon because most people keep their houses closed up when it's cold outside. Testing is quite easy and requires closing windows and outside doors at least 12 hours before beginning. The kit is placed in the lowest lived-in level of the home in a room used regularly, but not in a kitchen or bathroom. The kit is placed 20 inches above the floor where it won't be disturbed, and where it is away from drafts, vents, high heat and exterior walls.

Test your home and protect your health during National Radon Action Month. For a short time, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, in cooperation with the Nevada State Health Division, is pleased to offer a limited number of free radon test kits.

Take action today and help your family breathe safer tomorrow. Visit your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office, or call (775) 784-4848, to receive your radon test kit. For more information, see the EPA's radon website, www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html.

For more information on gardening, contact me, 887-2252 or skellyj@unce.unr.edu, or your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at www.unce.unr.edu. "Ask a Master Gardener" by e-mailing mastergardeners@unce.unr.edu.

• JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension Educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Megan Long is the Assistant Radon Program Director for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.


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