K-State Specialists Encourage Kansans to Test for Radon Exposure in Their Homes

By Lisa Moser, K-State Research and Extension news service

 

Manhattan, KS— There is nothing like a breath of fresh air, but what if that air in the house is tainted with radon? Long-term exposure to residential radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers, said Brian Hanson, radon program coordinator and extension engineer at Kansas State University.

 

“Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive solid gas that can be an issue in a house with any type of foundation, and it is challenging because unless we do a specific air test for it, we don’t know what the amount of exposure is,” Hanson said.

 

Hanson will be speaking on this topic as part of the Living Well Wednesday webinar series planned for noon on Jan. 11.

 

Radon testing and management 

 

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 1 in 4 houses in Kansas are elevated or at the EPA action level of four picocuries of radon, said Hanson. “In reality, our data indicated that it is probably closer to one in three houses statewide,” he said.

 

Hanson recommends Kansans test routinely with low-cost kits that can be obtained at state and local extension offices. He recommends visiting the Kansas Radon Program website to learn more about testing and other valuable information.

 

“When purchasing a home, you should always include a professional radon test as part of your due diligence in buying,” Hanson said.

 

For homes that have elevated radon exposure levels, homeowners can install remediation systems that will improve the air quality, said Hanson.

 

“Generally, it requires installing a permanent mechanical system called an active soil depressurization system that puts a direct vacuum on the soil, pulling out the radon continuously from beneath the foundation,” Hanson said, adding that these types of systems cost around $1,500-$2,000 to install.

 

It is important for homeowners to keep testing throughout their time in the home, Hanson said.

 

“If the home is elevated in radon levels and you put in a remediation system, continue to test every two years. For homes that initially test low, they should be retested every five years or after a major renovation,” Hanson said.

 

Webinar series 

 

To hear more about this topic, Hanson encourages Kansans to tune in to the Living Well Wednesday webinar series.

 

Along with addressing radon exposure, there are other health-related topics planned for the next few months, said Sharolyn Jackson, K-State northeast area family and consumer sciences specialist.

 

“Our Living Well Wednesday series focuses on health in a broad context from physical and mental health to financial and relationship health,” Jackson said.

 

She encouraged people to register for the webinars so that they can view the recording link and get reminder prompts ahead of the presentations.

 

Future seminars include end-of-life legal documentation, hypertension awareness, mental health care and ways to stretch the food dollar.

 

“All of these topics relate to our daily living by helping people to live well,” Jackson said.

 

To learn more, visit the Living Well Wednesday webinar website.