One in three homes test for high radon levels
By ERICKA WERLING
With elevated levels of radon indicated in Dickinson County, a Kansas State University program coordinator is encouraging all homes get tested for the odorless radioactive gas.
“Every house is different,” said Brian Hanson, with the Kansas State Engineering Radon Program coordinator.
One of every three houses in the state has tested with high levels of radon.
Since 2010, radon levels are elevated, with Dickinson County showing an average reading of 5.3 pCi/L, (picocuries per liter) Hanson said. The EPA action level is 4.0 pCi//L.
Hanson made a presentation in Abilene last week as part of the national Radon Awareness Month.
Gary Boesker, Canton, the Heartland Chapter president of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists agrees. Boesker also owns a radon mitigation business.
Radon occurs naturally in the soil. According to the EPA website, www.epa.gov/radon, soil contains uranium. As the uranium decays it turns into radium, which in turn decays into radon. The concern with the radon is the increase of lung cancer.
Boesker said he is usually called to a home after the death of a resident.
“I test for the survivors,” he said. “It’s a real problem.”
He said the effect of radon can be similar for a non-smoking person smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
Boesker cited a 40-year study of stay at home moms in Iowa, which showed the lung cancer occurrence high.
Hanson said the EPA has made a push for the testing since the 1990s. It was recognized as a problem in the mid 80s.
“It’s not a new situation,” Hanson said.
Hanson said the age of the house is not an indicator of a potential radon problem. Radon can also affect a house regardless if the house has a slab foundation, basement, or other type of foundation.
Boesker said that well water can also be contaminated with radon, and even showering with radon-infected water can affect a person’s health.
“But not a huge amount,” he said.
The Dickinson County Research and Extension office, 712 S. Buckeye, has testing kits available to homeowners.
More information can be found at www.kansasradonprogram.org.