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Radon Testing

Ringgold County offers information on the health effects of radon exposure, test kits and recommendations for mitigation of radon exposure. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States is exposure to radon.

Iowa is ranked #1 in the nation for the percentage of homes testing above the Environmental Protection Agency action level of 4 pCi/l.

What Is Radon?

Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of radium, which is itself a decay product of uranium. Uranium and radium are both common elements in the soil.

The major source of high levels of radon in homes is soil surrounding the house that may contain uranium, granite, shale, phosphate and pitchblende. The radon gas from the soil can enter a home or building through dirt floors, hollow-block walls, cracks in the foundation floor and walls and openings around floor drains, pipes and sump pumps.

  • Radon is often more highly concentrated in basements, ground floors and first floors of homes.
  • Radon problems have been identified in every state. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as many as 1 in 15 homes in the U.S. has elevated radon levels.
  • Any home can have a radon problem — even homes without basements.

Testing for Radon

Radon levels are measured in Pico curies per liter of air (pCi/L).  No level of radon is considered absolutely safe; however, the average indoor level is 1.3 pCi/L. The ALA and EPA recommend that action be taken when indoor levels are above 4 Pico curies per liter.

Testing for radon is easy and relatively inexpensive. Once identified, radon problems can be fixed by straight-forward construction techniques.

Test Kits Available

Do-it-yourself test kits are available from the Ringgold County Public Health office in Mt. Ayr for $7.00/kit.

Tips on Home Testing for Radon

You can test your home for radon quickly, easily, and inexpensively. Dean Johnson, host of the nationally syndicated television home repair show “Hometime” and American Lung Association spokesperson for National Radon Action Week, offers the following tips on home testing:

  1. Any home in any area can have a radon problem, even apartments if they are below the third floor.  Millions of people have tested their homes for radon.  It’s a simple precaution everyone should take.
  2. Do-it-yourself test kits are available in most hardware stores and other retail outlets for $10 to $20. Choose a reliable test kit. Look for the words, “Meets EPA Requirements,” on the package.
  3. Depending on the type of kit you select, testing for radon can take anywhere from a few days to a year. Remember, the longer the test, the more accurate the results are in predicting the year-round radon levels of a home.
  4. If a short-term test indicates an elevated radon level, confirm your findings with a second test before taking action.
  5. If you prefer, a professional testing firm can test your home for you.
  6. If your home does have a high level of radon, do not panic. Radon problems are easily corrected. The repairs cost no more than many other common home repairs and will not change the appearance of your home. A variety of methods can be used from sealing cracks in floors and walls to changing the flow of air in your home.
  7. Always consult an EPA-listed or state-certified contractor. They can evaluate the problem and help you select the right solution. As when hiring a contractor for any home repair, you may want to get more than one estimate and check references.

More Information on Radon

Contact the Clarke County Environmental Health Office (641-223-8299) for additional information about radon, including the names of qualified radon contractors and testing firms. You can also call the National Radon Hotline at 1-800-206-7818. For more information, visit radon.com.