TOPEKA — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) have proclaimed January “Kansas Radon Action Month” to help educate Kansans about the dangers of radon exposure and encourage actions to identify and address radon problems in the home. Radon is a tasteless, odorless, colorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas found in nearly all soils which comes from the breakdown of uranium. Outdoors, radon is diluted to low concentrations, but once inside an enclosed space, radon can accumulate to significant levels.
For Kansas Radon Action Month, KDHE will offer free home test kits at over 80 locations across the state. For locations, go to www.kdheks.gov and follow the Radon Action Month link.
“Make your family’s health part of your New Year’s resolution by testing the radon levels in your home,” said Governor Brownback. “You can start by getting a free test kit from one of the participating distribution sites during the month of January.”
About one out of every three radon measurements performed in Kansas are elevated, being above 4 pCi/l (picoCuries per liter). Some areas have higher levels than others, though elevated levels of radon have been detected in every county in the state. As many as one in 15 homes across the U.S. has elevated radon levels that often go undetected.
“Radon is the first leading cause of lung cancer in people who have never smoked and is estimated to cause over 200 lung cancer deaths in Kansas every year,” said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “Radon is going undetected in homes across our state. All Kansans should test their homes, fix any homes with elevated radon levels and build new homes using radon-resistant methods.”
Topeka, Manhattan, Lawrence and Salina building codes require new homes to be built using radon-resistant techniques, and additional cities in Kansas are considering this modification to their building codes.
Inexpensive radon test kits are available year round at local hardware and builder’s supply stores and at your Kansas county extension office. Those tests that reveal high levels can be fixed with simple venting techniques completed by a licensed professional. Homeowners should talk with a certified radon contractor if levels of 4 pCi/l or above are detected.
“Unfortunately, the reality is that radon is everywhere, and the only way to know the radon concentration anywhere, is to test,” said Bruce Snead, Director of Engineering Extension at Kansas State University. “Kansas Radon Action Month is an ideal time to take action to identify your risk by testing your home.”
A list of certified radon contractors is available by calling the Kansas Radon Hotline at 800-693-KDHE (800-693-5343). Additional information about radon can be obtained at www.kansasradonprogram.org and at www.epa.gov/radon.