Radon testing in Nebraska shows that a high level of radon gas in homes across the state iscommon.
Radon is a colorless,odorless, naturally occurring gas that originates in the soil and can build todangerous levels in homes. Since it is radioactive, it's very damaging tolung tissue when people breathe it in. The EPA estimates that approximately21,000 lung cancer deaths per year are due to radon exposure.
With over 48,000 homes being tested since 1990, 59 percent have beenabove the acceptable health level set by the EPA,according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
The EPA-set health standardfor radon is 4 picocuries per liter of air, although exposure to even lowerlevels can raise a person's risk.
A recent analysis of radondata shows:
- Asmore homes in Nebraska are tested for radon, the state average is creepinghigher, up to 6.3 picocuries per liter from 5.9 picocuries per liter in 2010.
- Theaverage radon level in some counties has increased to above 4.0 picocuries perliter, with Sheridan, Garden, and Holt counties joining the 69 counties thattested that high previously.
- Dawsonand Gage counties have joined Cedar County in the category of having anextremely high level. These counties have results in the 205 – 290 picocuriesper liter category.
"People should reduce theirrisk as much as possible," said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer."Radon testing is the first step to knowing how much risk you and your familyare exposed to in your home. If you have a high level, you can takemeasures to reduce it."
Sealing obvious cracks andopenings in the foundation of the home can slow radon entry, as canpressurizing the basement by opening air registers. However, since thesesteps will only lower the radon level slightly, contacting a licensedcontractor will be the next step for most homes with higher levels. Thecontractor can install a permanent mitigation system which will actively pullthe radon from under the foundation slab and exhaust it above the roof.
To see the new summary dataand maps showing areas in the state with high radon levels, visit http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/radon. This page will also have information onhow to get a radon test kit and a list of contractors who are licensed tomitigate radon levels in homes.