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La Salle County Health Department is distributing free radon test kits

The La Salle County Health Department is encouraging residents to test the radon level in their home.

Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in most soil. As radon travels through the soil, it can easily move through small spaces in a foundation and enter a building, where it becomes trapped and accumulates in the air.

The La Salle County Health Department, through a grant from the IEMA, has free radon test kits available to residents of La Salle County. Test kits can be picked up at the health department during regular business hours 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 717 E. Etna Road, Ottawa. A staff member will assist with the instructions on using the test kit, as well as provide information regarding radon, radon measurement and radon mitigation. Additionally, should a radon test results show a high level of radon in your home, the health department can provide a list of licensed radon measurement professionals and licensed radon mitigation professionals for follow-up.

Radon has no taste, smell, or color. Testing is the only way to find out if there is a dangerous level of radon in your home. The best time to test for radon is during cold weather when windows and doors are closed.

Most radon exposures occur in the home. When people breathe in radon, it damages the lungs, which can cause lung cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. Radon can be found throughout Illinois and levels can vary from one home to another, even in the same neighborhood. It’s estimated more than 1,100 people in Illinois develop radon-related lung cancer each year according to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

The EPA has established the radon action level at 4 picocuries per liter of air. At or above this level, it is recommended corrective measures be taken to reduce indoor radon levels. Radon mitigation is the only effective way to reduce levels and decrease the risk of lung cancer. The most common radon reduction system involves the installation of a vent pipe and fan, which draws air from underneath a building and displaces it outside. The cost of a system varies depending on the reduction method chosen and building size. Radon is a preventable health threat through testing and mitigation.

According to the IEMA, approximately one in two homes tested in Illinois (45% of homes) have radon at or above the EPA action level of 4 pCi/L. In addition, the average Illinois indoor air radon concentration is 5.1 pCi/L.

“Testing for radon is simple and inexpensive, and it’s the only way to know if your family is at risk,” said Jennie Osborn, director of environmental health at La Salle County Health Department. “Testing takes 3-7 days. Tests should be done on the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied. Tests should not be done in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, or utility rooms. A short-term test is very easy to use and is best completed during the winter months, when windows and doors are generally closed.”

In 2022, La Salle County Health Department distributed 227 test kits. One hundred thirty-eight of those test kits have been submitted for analysis, for a 60% usage rate. One hundred fifteen have produced valid results, with 53 having a result above 4.0pCi/L. The average result of the kits analyzed in 2022 is 10.2 pCi/L.

Call the La Salle County Health Department at 815-433-3366, for more information on radon test kits.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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