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Oregon wants your help gathering better radon risk data

Date Published: 01/30/2020 [Source]

Oregon public health officials want a better picture of radon levels across the state, and they're looking for your help. Winter is the best time to test your home for radon because it's easiest to get an accurate measure when doors and windows are closed.

The Oregon Radon Awareness Program will send you a free test kit if you live in an area where the state's data is sparse, which includes ZIP code 97371, the portion of Polk County between West Salem and Dallas.

Residents in many parts of eastern Marion and Linn counties are also eligible for free kits. Those interested can email radon.program@dhsoha.state.or.us.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that forms in soil as uranium decays. It can seep into homes through cracks in foundation, walls or flooring and gives off radioactive byproducts.

Outdoors, it's relatively harmless, but indoors, radon can build to dangerous levels and cause lung cancer.

Radon exposure is the second most common cause after smoking, according to the American Lung Association. About 21,000 Americans die from radon-caused lung cancer each year.

The health authority maps radon risk by ZIP code. North Salem and Keizer are considered low risk, with between 5% and 7% of homes having radon levels above what the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe.

South Salem, ZIP code 97302, has a moderate risk. About one-third of tested homes have unsafe radon levels.