Health district warns about hidden danger in homes during winter

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Health district warns about hidden danger in homes during winter

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

It’s colorless, odorless and tasteless — but it could kill you if you don’t take proper precautions.

The Clark County Combined Health District says winter is a good time to test for elevated radon levels in your home.

Radon is always present in the air because it comes from decaying uranium deposits in the ground, but several factors contribute to higher levels during this time of year including closed windows which prohibits ventilation.

“In the wintertime we’re heating our homes. Heat rises through the home and pulls the radon gas up and out of the ground and accumulates inside,” said Director of Environmental Health, Larry Shaffer.

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The gas poses serious health risks. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer. According to the EPA, Radon causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year — 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked.

For smokers, prolonged exposure to radon has even more consequences.

The EPA says if 1,000 people who smoked were exposed to increased radon levels, 62 of those people could get lung cancer — the risk of cancer at those elevated levels is the same as five times the risk of dying in a car crash.

Radon levels are measured in picocuries per liter or pCi/L — when the level of radon reaches 4.0 pCi/L, you may need to call a radon contractor to fix your home.

Ohio Property Inspection Services owner, John Helmick and his team do home inspections on a regular basis prior to real estate sales. He said it doesn’t necessarily matter how old the home is, but he did say homes with basements or concrete slabs are more likely to have increased exposure.

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He said some people elect to get a radon inspection before they choose to buy a home, but a lot don’t.

“I think a lot of people are unaware of it,” Helmick said.

Testing for radon in homes is simple — and homeowners can do it themselves. Helmick said any radon test kit purchased at a store is just as accurate as the more sophisticated instruments he may use during an inspection.

. Helmick said it usually costs around $800-$1,500 to fix elevated levels of radon.

Radon test kits can be purchased at any local hardware store. To learn more about getting a free test kit, contact the health district at 937-399-5600 ext. 245.