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Radon Risk: Clatskanie on 'highest risk' list

Date Published: 02/05/2020 [Source]

Radon is odorless, tasteless and invisible. It is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes up from the ground and is drawn into buildings, where it can build up to dangerous levels.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after cigarette smoking, and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

New Oregon radon data shows that many regions of the state are at moderate risk of having high radon levels, with several pockets of high-risk areas around the Willamette Valley, and in eastern and southern Oregon.

The Oregon Radon Awareness Program collects radon test data from test kit manufacturers to understand which areas of the state have the potential for high radon levels.

Oregon's areas of highest risk for radon are in Clatskanie, Columbia City, Dundee, Scappoose, Banks, and North Plains, as well as Boring, Parkdale, Milton-Freewater and La Grande, according to the data published on the Oregon Radon Awareness Program website. A large swath of Portland, particularly in the north, northeastern and southeastern parts of the city, also was found to be at high risk.

People can take steps to reduce their exposure to radon by testing their homes for radon and, if necessary, hiring a professional to reduce it to a safe level.

"Every homeowner should test their home for radon every two to five years," Oregon Health Authority Radon Awareness Program manager Curtis Cude said. "The best time to test is during the heating season, when the windows and doors are closed up tight."

There are many cities and ZIP codes in the state for which the Radon Program has little to no data. The program is offering a free radon test kit to residents whose homes are in ZIP codes with fewer than 20 radon test results. Residents can send an email to radon.program@dhsoha.state.or.us to receive instructions on how to get a free test kit, which will be provided while supplies last.