For Immediate Release
KDHE Office of Communications
Governor Kathleen Sebelius, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are urging residents to protect their families by testing their homes for an odorless, invisible gas.
Sebelius signed a proclamation on Wednesday proclaiming January as Kansas Radon Action Month. The Governor encouraged testing of homes, schools and work sites for radon to minimize long-term health risks.
“More than 200 lung cancer deaths per year in Kansas could be linked to indoor radon,” said Roderick L. Bremby, Secretary of KDHE. “The higher the concentration within a building and the more time people spend there, the greater the risk.”
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can emanate from soil and become a health hazard when concentrated inside a home, school, business or other structure. It’s the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and the first leading cause of lung cancer in people who have never smoked.
EPA estimates that indoor radon contributes to 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year. Exposure causes no immediate symptoms, and often goes unrecognized until serious health complications arise.
As many as one in 15 homes across the U.S. has elevated radon levels that most often go undetected. About one out of every three radon measurements performed in Kansas are elevated, being above 4 pCi/l (picoCuries per liter). Some areas have higher levels than others.
Topeka, Manhattan, and Lawrence building codes require new homes to be built using radon-resistant techniques, and additional cities in Kansas are considering this modification to their building codes.
Inexpensive radon test kits, available at local hardware and builder’s supply stores and at your Kansas county extension office, can reveal the amount of radon in any building. Those with high levels can usually be fixed with simple and affordable venting techniques. Homeowners should talk with a certified radon contractor if levels above 4 pCi/l are consistently detected.
A list of certified radon contractors is available by calling the Kansas Radon Hotline at 800-693-KDHE (800-693-5343). Additional information about radon can be obtained at www.kansasradonprogram.org and at www.epa.gov/radon/.