Because this type of radioactive contamination claims the lives of over 20,000 US citizens annually, National Radon Action Month urges people to check their homes’ radon levels, with certain regions giving out short-term test kits for free. According to a study released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, radon contamination is the second leading source of lung cancer in the country.
Radon is a type of toxic gas produced by the decay of radioactive materials like uranium and thorium and is commonly found near deposits of said elements. While in the air, these particles collide and produce small bursts of energy that directly attack lung tissue and can eventually lead to the onset of lung cancer if actions for circumventing this event are not taken immediately.
The Madison and Brunswick Counties Health Departments are offering free test kits because the regions, along with Oakland and Wayne present radon levels above the national safety level of 1.3 picocuries. Because this gas does not emit smell and cannot be seen, families could be subjecting themselves to an increased risk towards lung cancer without even knowing it.
This gas can slip through cracks in the house’s floor or simply enter through the window. It then starts to decay faster and faster, increasing in volume. After a certain level is reached, its effects begin to become more noticeable to the house’s residents, with symptoms like coughing and difficulty when breathing.
Given the fact that the cold season makes homes more or less insulated from outdoor elements, radon testing can be conducted with a higher degree of effectiveness. But this is not only limited to homes and houses, with schools, hospitals and other indoor areas advised to undergo radon testing as well.
Bearing in mind that this test can be done by anyone if they have previously checked the EPA website page regarding radon testing, every US citizen should attempt to conduct this analysis if they have the possibility of acquiring a test kit. In North Carolina, programs for raising awareness and teaching how to conduct the test are currently available towards the general public.
While undergoing the test, people should refrain from opening doors or extensively ventilating the area by opening windows. Indoor heating and ventilation through air conditioning or other similar methods can still be used regularly, making this analysis as noninvasive as possible.
Short term radon testing kits like charcoal canisters or charcoal liquid scintillation monitoring devices cost upwards to $20 and usually take about 2-3 minutes to install, depending on the directions provided with each kit. If a dangerous level is found, radon decontamination is fast and easy to undergo. After removal, radon levels usually drop by 99%.
Taking into account the fact that the National Radon Action Month urges people to check their homes’ radon levels, people should take a moment of their time and see if their homes have been contaminated or not, especially if they are in the vicinity of a thorium or uranium deposit. Up to this point, over 6.000 families from Madison County have already benefited from their testing kit use, effectively stopping this silent killer gas from taking any lives in that area.