YOUR WEEKEND: Get a free radon home test kit on Saturday

Radon gas is a silent killer, and it might be lurking in your home.

January is National Radon Action Month, so the Nevada Cooperative Extension is making a point of reminding the public of the dangers that exist when the radioactive gas rises to unsafe levels in a home.

Public health authorities estimate that radon causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually in the United States. Among nonsmokers, it is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer. Radon problems have been detected in all 50 states.

The Cooperative Extension will provide free radon home test kits to those attending a radon awareness presentation at 3 p.m. January 31 in the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road. The short-term test kit is placed in the home for two to four days. It contains activated charcoal that absorbs radon gas and gives extremely accurate results, according to the Cooperative Extension.

Radon occurs naturally in the atmosphere and comes from a variety of sources, including soil and ground water. It is dangerous when it collects at high levels. Radon enters a home through cracks and openings such as sump pump lids and plumbing fixtures.

Winter is the best time to test a home for the presence of radon because houses tend to be closed up more during the cooler months, trapping the gas inside.

When high levels of radon are detected in a home, steps can be taken to address the problem. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the typical cost to mitigate radon levels in a house is $1,200, although it can range from $800 to $2,500.

Experts say there is no defined set of risk factors that indicates which American homes might have a radon problem. One house might be perfectly fine, but the house next door might be a danger zone. That’s why testing is so important.

For more information, call 257-5555 or e-mail Laura Au-Yeung at au-yeungl@unce.unr.edu.

The Nevada Cooperative Extension is the outreach arm of the University of Nevada that communicates useful knowledge to the general public.

— John Maltby/Special to View

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