Health and Family Services Cabinet
Radon Awareness Should Last Year-Round
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ radon program and other agencies are urging Kentuckians to learn more about the dangers of radon, particularly in the home, during Radon Action Month in January.
Western Kentucky University, the Kentucky Clean Indoor Air Partnership and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are joining the awareness effort, an annual event to educate the public about the health risks of exposure to radon.
Radon is an invisible, odorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally in our rocks and soils. It enters homes through cracks and other openings in foundations. Any home can have elevated levels of radon. The only way to know about your home is to test.
“Radon can be a terrible threat to public health and is a risk factor for lung cancer,” said Dr. William Hacker, commissioner of the Department for Public Health (DPH). “It’s extremely important to have radon levels tested in your homes and schools. In some instances, radon exposure can be deadly.”
According to the National Academy of Sciences, exposure to indoor radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after smoking. Scientists estimate that approximately 400 Kentuckians develop lung cancer each year from exposure to indoor radon gas. The Surgeon General issued a health advisory in 1988 emphasizing the need to test for indoor radon and correct the problem when elevated levels are found.
“Fortunately, most homes with elevated levels of radon gas can be easily fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs,” said Hardwick. “If you’re having a new home built, you should discuss with the builder about incorporating radon resistant construction methods recommended by the EPA.”
To get children involved in radon awareness, the Kentucky radon program created the Kentucky Radon Calendar Contest. DPH is now accepting entries for the 2009 contest. To participate or to learn more, visit www.chfs.ky.gov/dph/info/phps/radongas.htm or call (502) 564-4856.
The 2008 calendar contest winner was Megan Foltz from Grant County. Megan won a home computer system, and her poster entry was sent to the National Radon Poster Contest sponsored by the National Safety Council. The poster was also incorporated into a calendar that will be distributed statewide.
“The calendar contest helps us teach young people about the dangers of radon,” said Clay Hardwick, state radon coordinator in DPH. “It’s really a great opportunity for children to lend their skills and talents to aid Kentucky public health.”
For more information on testing your home for indoor radon gas, contact the radon program at (502) 564-4856.