Date Published: 10/22/2012 [Source]
Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have found that among annual deaths due to lung cancer, almost 20,000 of them are connected to the airborne form of radiation known as radon. Radon, a gas caused by decaying uranium in the soil which is both invisible and odorless, is found in almost every state. However, it has especially high concentrations in Wyoming; with the exception of Weston and Platte counties, Wyoming has been found to have radon concentrations at or above the danger zone of 4 pCi/L (pico Curies per Liter). Radon is present in the soil, and enters houses through cracks and other breaches in a house's foundation. Long-term exposure to these high levels of radon can, over time, contribute to lung cancer. This effect is compounded in smokers.
Oct. 15-21 was Radon Awareness Week, a national effort to encourage citizens to test for radon in their homes and schools. Radon testing is inexpensive and simple, with testing kits readily available through many online retailers. The Wyoming Department of Health is currently offering a buy one, get one free sale on radon testing kits.
If a house is found to have radon levels at or above 4 pCi/L, homeowners should contact a radon mitigation contractor to correct the problem.
Testing should be done annually, as well as when moving into a new residence. Those selling a house are encouraged to inform potential buyers of the house's radon levels, or to test and address the problem themselves before closing. Homeowners with wells or other private supplies of groundwater should be aware that radon can move from soil to water, and consider testing it alongside their houses.
Wyoming residents can call Steven Melia, the state radon official, for more information at 307-777-5402 or go to www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html. Information on the testing kit promotion can be found at health.wyo.gov/phsd/radon/promotion.html.