“Plane crashes, 400 Iowans killed.” This headline would cause an investigation, yet every year approximately 400 Iowans die from radon-induced lung cancer; this goes unnoticed. Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil left by glaciers.
Iowa has the highest incidence of radon in the country. It 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. Every Iowa county has a level above the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action level of four picocuries per liter (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. 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.
Mitigation can be done 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 Health Savings Account (HSA) funds. Testing and mitigating for radon is cancer prevention.
Pleasant Hill, Iowa