Detecting and Preventing Radon

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is odorless, tasteless and invisible and comes up from the ground through cracks and gaps. Long-term exposure to high levels can harm health and radon buildup can happen in any home. Radon levels often reach their highest levels during the winter months when doors and windows are closed and people are spending more time inside. That combination puts many parts of Oregon at risk of exposure and is the reason why Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) Radon Awareness Program encourages people to test their homes this time of year.
“Testing your home is the only way to know if you have high radon levels. Testing every two to five years gives you the knowledge to plan ahead, and if necessary, hire a professional to reduce your radon levels,” said Brett Sherry, the program manager for OHA’s Healthy Homes & Schools Unit. “Radon test kits are simple to use and inexpensive, with many of them available online or at your local hardware and home improvement store.”
Many home radon test kits cost between $20 and $30, though people may qualify for free kits if they live in ZIP codes that have fewer than 20 radon test results recorded. Free test kits are available while supplies last. More information, including application details, available at bit.ly/3vlVFj4.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US after cigarette smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates radon is responsible for more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the US.
The Oregon Radon Awareness Program collects radon test data from test kit manufacturers to understand which areas of the state have the potential for high radon levels and to identify opportunities for education outreach. Some regions with notably high risk of elevated radon include Boring, Columbia City and parts of northern, northeastern and southern Portland, according to data published in 2023.
If testing results show a significant buildup of radon in any given home, the EPA recommends finding a qualified radon mitigation contractor to lower those levels. The cost of mitigation may be similar to that of common home repairs such as painting or installing a new water heater.
For more information on areas that have been identified as having moderate-to-high-risk elevated radon levels in Oregon, ordering and using radon test kits, and radon mitigation, visit OHA’s Radon Awareness Program website, healthoregon.org/radon, or the EPA’s radon website, epa.gov/radon.

Detecting and Preventing Radon

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