The Oregon Health Authority is encouraging residents to check levels of Radon levels in their homes this month. They say winter is the best time to test for the cancer-causing agent.
Radon occurs naturally in the soil and is a byproduct of decaying uranium. It has also been identified as the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths for non-smokers. Brett Sherry, the state radon coordinator for the Oregon Health Authority says when windows and doors are closed in the colder months, levels are easier to detect.
Sherry: "Typically our homes are under negative pressure, so they wind up acting like a big vacuum and sucking that radon gas out of the soil, and pulling it into crawlspaces and basements and then up into the house."
A radon test kit includes an envelope that remains open in an indoor space for several days, then it is sealed and sent to a lab for analysis. Kits are available at most hardware stores. If higher levels of radon are detected, it should be removed. Sherry says often homeowners don't realize they have a problem until they are ready to move.
Sherry: "And then when they sell, the buyer has the house tested for radon – and if it's found, the seller usually winds up paying for the system anyway. So, you might as well find out if there's a problem now, fix it, and actually enjoy the benefits before you sell your home."
Sherry says you can't see or smell radon. More information about testing, exposure and mitigation is available at the Oregon Health Authority's website.
copyright, 2014 KLCC
Reporting contribution from Oregon News Service's Chris Thomas