Letcher County Health Department is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a nationwide campaign to educate Americans about the dangers of radon exposure and to encourage them to take action to protect their homes and families. In Letcher County, the health department is conducting community radon action activities during National Radon Action Month in January.
Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that is dispersed in outdoor air, but which can reach harmful levels when trapped in buildings. Scientists have long been concerned about the health risks of radon, but never before has there been such overwhelming proof that exposure to elevated levels of radon causes lung cancer in humans.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Radon is the leading second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. “However,” says Renee Neace from Kentucky River District Health Department “because you can’t see or smell radon, people tend to downplay the health effects and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer in their homes.”
Testing homes for elevated levels of radon is simple and inexpensive. Radon test kits can be purchased at local hardware and home improvement stores or directly from radon testing companies. Many are priced under $25. Radon problems can be fixed by qualified contractors for a cost similar to that of many common home repairs such as painting or having a new water heater installed (anywhere from $800 to about $2,500).
The health department urges Letcher County residents to take action during this year’s National Radon Action Month by testing their homes for radon. For more information on radon, radon testing and mitigation, and radon-resistant new construction, call Perry County Health Department at (606) 436-2196 or visit EPA’s National Radon Action Month Web site at : www.epa.gov/radon/nram.