Every January millions of people declare that with the changing of the year they should bring changes to their lives, and with that comes New Year’s Resolutions. Whether it be to travel more, save money, or simply try new ‘out-of-the-box’ activities, one consistently popular resolution every year involves getting healthy. While resolutions like losing XX pounds or eating healthy going forward may seem insurmountable at times, there is one thing anyone can and should do to ensure a healthier home in the new year. It only takes a few minutes to set up, but those few minutes could shed light on whether a significant health risk is present in the home. What is this simple yet potentially life changing action?
Testing for radon gas.
Radon gas, a class 1 carcinogen, is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and is responsible for an estimated 21,000 deaths a year. The US EPA has set an action level for indoor radon levels at 4.0 pCi/l and recommends that homes testing above this level be mitigated to reduce the radon level in the home.
To help increase awareness, January has historically been designated National Radon Action Month (NRAM) by the EPA. During this month many radon organizations, advocacy groups, and industry professionals help spread awareness to their surrounding communities. In many instances, state or local representatives may issue a proclamation in support of NRAM. Representatives from Illinois, Nevada, Kansas, and Colorado, to name a few, have all issued proclamations about National Radon Action Month, urging residents to test and spread the word on radon.
Awareness can also take place at community events or in statewide contests. Some state health departments will attend winter festivals, farmer’s markets, etc. to inform attendees about radon and provide information on performing a test. Through the American Lung Association, the state of Illinois is partaking in a statewide poster and video contest. Kids create posters in correlation with learning about radon in a science class and can submit them for cash prizes. The videos consist of a 30 second PSA/commercial style video and encourage residents to test their homes. Along with cash prizes for the students and school who win the video contest, the kids also have the chance to see their videos as a commercial before a movie!
National industry organizations have also taken action to promote radon awareness and education during the month of January. This year, the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) has created a toolkit that encourages people to request proclamations from public officials, connect with radon advocate groups, and spread their own testing or mitigation stories on social media using the hashtags, #NRAM, #StopRadon, #RadonAwareness. Many towns and communities have Facebook groups where residents interact. These are great places to encourage neighbors to test and get communities talking about radon.
The National Radon Safety Board (NRSB) has taken action as well, delivering free brochures provided by the New York Department of Health. “We were able to provide materials to local doctor’s offices, libraries, insurance companies and real estate brokers,” Kehaulani Kekoa from NRSB said. “Anyone or anywhere people would look for information about their home and their health, we wanted to have reliable information on hand!”
During the month of January many radon labs, measurement professionals, and mitigation contractors offer discounts to encourage residents to test. With radon being colorless, odorless, and tasteless, DIY radon testing using an accredited device, or hiring a measurement professional, are the only ways to be certain a home does not have elevated levels. DIY radon test kits are user friendly and simple to perform. All tests will come with everything needed to perform the test including detailed instructions. Believe it or not, performing a radon test can be as simple as opening a plastic bag, deploying it for a set amount of time, and returning it to the lab for analysis. Regardless of the how and who, the most important thing is that a test is done. Remember, the only way to know if there is a radon problem or not is to test.