Health and Family Services Cabinet
Radon Awareness Should Last Year-Round
Gov. Steve Beshear has officially proclaimed January Radon Awareness Month across the state, and 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.
Western Kentucky University, the Kentucky Clean Indoor Air Partnership, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are joining the awareness effort to further educate the public about the health risks of exposure to radon.
“Radon is a colorless, odorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas found in our rocks and soils.
"It enters homes through cracks and other openings in foundations,” said Guy Delius, director of the Division of Public Health Protection and Safety. “Any home can have elevated levels of radon. The only way to know about your home is to test.”
“Radon can certainly be a threat to public health and is a risk factor for lung cancer. It is extremely important to have radon levels tested in your homes,” said DPH Commissioner William Hacker, M.D. “In some instances, radon exposure over an extended period of time can cause serious adverse health effects.”
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. 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 Clay Hardwick, radon coordinator for DPH. “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 2010 contest. To participate or to learn more, visit www.chfs.ky.gov/dph/info/phps/radongas.htm or call (502) 564-4856.
The 2009 Kentucky Radon Calendar Contest winner was Katie Bruegge from Kenton County. Katie won a laptop 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 Hardwick. “It’s really a great opportunity for children to lend their skills and talents to radon awareness.”
For more information on testing your home for indoor radon gas, contact the Kentucky Radon Program at (502) 564-4856, or call your local health department.