In January, more than 125 people came to Swope Health Services Central Facility to pick up a free Radon Test kit, provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in conjunction with Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services.
The give-away was part of National Radon Action Month, as designated by the EPA. The goal is to raise awareness of radon while helping gather information for state and federal scientists about radon in our community.
Why the focus on radon? Steven Brown, Physical Scientist with Region 7 of the U.S. EPA, described radon as a naturally occurring substance that results from the decay of uranium in the soil. The gas is tasteless and odorless, so humans can’t detect it.
But radon can collect inside homes and buildings, and in concentrated amounts, can be dangerous.
According to the EPA, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in America, and claims the lives of about 21,000 Americans each year.
Brown explained how the test works: The package contains a small charcoal shield, which detects the radon. You place the sampler package in the lowest level of your home, ideally on an interior wall of a room you use.
There’s a small hook in the package for easy hanging near a thermostat or on a light shade, which are ideal places.
Brown suggested setting an alarm on your smart phone as a reminder to remove the sampler after three or four days and send it in using the pre-paid mailer in the kit. He noted that leaving the sampler out for less than three days or longer than seven days can invalidate the results.
After the test, you’ll get results back in the mail in a few weeks. Brown noted that if your test produces a score of 4 or higher, you’ll want to seek out options for remediation from a qualified radon mitigation specialist.
Usually, the remediation involves improving airflow and ventilation, allowing the radon to exit the house at the rooftop.
The EPA has additional resources:
- Find a Radon Test Kit or Measurement and Mitigation Specialist
- A Citizen’s Guide to Radon: The Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Radon
- Information about Local Radon Zones and State Contact Information
In case you missed out, don’t worry. You can order a free radon test kit by filling out this form on the state website.