Radon putting Ohioans at risk


Radon kills an estimated 21,000 people each year--more deaths than those due to drunk driving.

As part of National Radon Action Month, the EPA, the Ohio Department of Health and other radon activists are trying to raise awareness and encourage radon testing.

Ohio is at elevated risk for high radon readings due to the shale outcropping and glacial sediment that underlies much of the state.

Summit, Wayne and Stark counties are among 53 counties in the middle of Ohio that are considered by the EPA to have the highest potential for elevated radon levels..

Dangerously high radon levels have been found in nearly 31.6 percent of buildings in Summit County, 48 percent in Stark County and 49.3 percent in Wayne County, according to data on the University of Toledo's Ohio Radon Information System Web site.

Ohio's other 35 counties are at moderate risk. Those include Portage County, where elevated radon levels were found in 22.1 percent of buildings, and Medina County, where the percentage was 28.3.

However, elevated levels of radon have been found in every Ohio county. Any home in the state could have a radon problem and every home should be tested.

Hardware stores, mass merchandisers and online retailers sell test kits for around $20 or less, but improper handling or storage can skew the results. Some kits may also have additional analysis fees.

Marybeth Rich, a sanitarian program specialist with the Ohio Department of Health, recommends ordering a kit from AirChek Inc., which has an agreement with the health department to sell to Ohioans at a discounted price of $6.95. The price includes return shipping and laboratory analysis.

Kits can be ordered at http://www.ohio.radon.com or 800-247-2435.

Radon professionals can also be hired to do the testing.

Radon can also be found in water, usually groundwater. Drinking water containing radon may increase your risk of stomach cancer, but the bigger risk comes when the water is disturbed and the gas is released into the air, which is why the EPA maintains that testing the air is still the best choice.

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