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Jan 06, 2014

 

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Paul Driscoll
Planning, Prevention and Assistance
406-841-5231

 

DEQ Urges Homeowners to Test for Radon

 

(HELENA) January is Radon Awareness Month, and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is urging Montanans to protect their health by testing their homes for radon gas.

Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that occurs naturally from the decay of uranium and radium in many Montana soils and can accumulate inside homes. Studies indicate elevated levels of the gas are the second leading cause of lung cancer overall. Nationally, more than 22,000 people each year die from lung cancer linked to exposure to radon.

In Montana, historic radon testing shows that radon gas is present in varying levels in homes throughout the state. The amount of radon depends largely on the underlying geology of the area. Radon is measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies 4.0 pCi/L as the "action level" for radon.

"Testing for radon is the best way to know if people in your home are at risk from this cancer-causing gas," said John Podolinsky of DEQ's Radon Control Program. "Radon is a problem that can be easily fixed, and we encourage all Montanans to first test their homes," Podolinsky added.

Podolinsky said that fewer than 80 percent of American homes have been tested for radon even though the tests are easy and inexpensive to do. Radon can build to unhealthy levels, especially during colder months when windows and doors are kept closed. This radioactive gas can seep into homes from underground and can reach harmful levels if trapped indoors. Ventilating radon gas from under the basement floor or crawlspace is a common way to solve the problem and can cost as little as $500 to $2,000 to do.

Montana residents can obtain a free radon test kit from their county health departments, based on availability. Low-cost radon kits are also available on-line or at local hardware stores. Once the radon level in a home is determined, the results should be discussed with a radon mitigation contractor, particularly when levels test above the action level.

For more information about radon, contact the DEQ Radon Control Program toll-free at 1-800-546-0483 or visit the web site at www.deq.mt.gov, your county environmental health department, or EPA's radon website at: http://www.epa.gov/radon/.

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