Extension connection: Radon testing saves lives

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 31, 2008

By RICKY COLQUITT / Guest Columnist

So what if there is radon, in my house? Why would it concern me?

Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in most rocks and soils.

It can seep into any home, new or old, as well as any school, business or building.

Radon comes in through dirt floors, cracks in concrete floors, sumps, joints, and foundation openings for pipes, sewers and other utility connections.

It can also enter through wells, small water systems or in water.

Radon may be the most underestimated cause of lung cancer.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this radioactive gas is responsible for more lung cancer deaths than any other single pollutant – except tobacco smoke!

More than 21,000 Americans die each year as a result of radon-related lung cancer.

Radon tests in Shelby County indicate that 11.76 percent of homes test above the minimum action level.

Since you can’t see, smell or taste radon, testing is the only way to detect its presence.

Extension offices began educating the public about radon and its dangers in October of 1997 through a partnership with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The program concentrated its efforts in 13 zone one (highest radon incidence) counties including Shelby and Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Madison, Morgan and Talladega.

Through the program, 14,000 Alabama citizens have received radon test kits through their extension offices.

Testing for radon is highly encouraged and radon test kits are relatively inexpensive and easy to use.

They can be purchased at your county extension agent’s office for about $5.

For more information on how to test for and reduce radon in your home, call your Shelby County Extension agent’s office at 669-6763.

Ricky Colquitt is the director of the Shelby County Extension Office