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Radon test recommended every two years

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: October 23, 2013

Radon isn’t just an issue to think about when you’re buying or selling a house. It’s a potential health hazard that merits periodic monitoring, health officials say.

This is National Radon Action Week, an occasion meant to raise awareness about the need to test homes for radon and possibly take steps to reduce the danger.

Radon is a radioactive gas that seeps into our homes from the ground below and could put us at risk for lung cancer. Although the magnitude of the health risks of radon is uncertain, the surgeon general has said radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

Summit, Stark and Wayne counties are considered to be at high risk for elevated radon levels. The risk in Portage and Medina counties is considered moderate. But it’s important to note that radon is notoriously spotty, and dangerous levels can be found in houses even in lower-risk areas.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends testing a house every two years, even if it has a mitigation system. Don’t let old test results lull you into a false sense of security. Soils and foundations can change, so a house that was safe two years ago could have an unsafe radon level now.

Home test kits are easy to use. They're left on the lowest level of the house for anywhere from a few days to three months or more, and then sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Ohio residents can order home test kits from Air Chek Inc., which has an agreement with the Ohio Health Department to sell kits to Ohioans at a discount.

If the test detects an elevated level of radon, you can follow up with a long-term test for more accurate results. A high level on a long-term test indicates you need to install a mitigation system, which costs about $1,000.

More information about radon can be found from the Ohio Radon Information website of the EPA's radon website. The Ohio Department of Health operates a radon information line at 800-523-4439.

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