PLANE CRASHES; 400 IOWANS KILLED. This headline would cause an investigation, yet every year approximately 400 Iowans die from radon-induced lung cancer and few seem to notice.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. It comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium in the soil left behind by glaciers. Iowa has the highest incidence of radon in the country. The Surgeon General warns that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 5 out of 7 homes have an unacceptable level of radon. The average radon concentration in every Iowa county is above the EPA action level of 4.0pCi/L. Since radon levels aren’t constant, every home (no matter the kind of foundation or age of the home) should be tested at least every two years.
Testing is the only way to know a radon level. There is no immediate symptom that will alert you to the presence of radon. Testing is easy. You can purchase an inexpensive kit from your county health department or by calling the American Lung Association at 800-383-5992. The University of Iowa College of Public Health tells us that although the EPA urges us to mitigate a home that tests at 4.0pCi/L, one-third of Iowans who die because of radon were living with a level between 2-4pCi/L. A radon problem can be mitigated in less than a day. The average cost is $1,400 – less than fixing a leaky roof.
It’s a one-time home improvement and can be paid for with flex or HSA funds. Testing and mitigating for radon is simply cancer prevention.