There could be a radioactive gas in your home that causes lung cancer and you wouldn’t even know it’s there. Lung cancer kills more individuals than any other cancer and radon is estimated to cause 21,000 of those deaths each year in the U.S. Radon is a deadly, naturally occurring radioactive gas that is a health issue in Nevada, as well as worldwide. Once diagnosed with lung cancer, there is only a 15 percent five-year survival rate.

Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer for those who do not smoke. Smokers who are exposed to elevated levels of radon have an even greater chance of getting lung cancer. However, radon-caused lung cancer is preventable through testing and mitigation.
Reducing the risk of radon-caused lung cancer can only happen through education, as Nevada lacks any protective statutes or regulations specific to radon. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Radon Education Program educates Nevadans about the radon health risk, how to test for and fix radon problems, and distributes low cost test kits to residents. The simple test can determine if a home has a radon problem, a possible problem or no problem at all. If a radon problem is found, a minor home repair can reduce radon levels and lower the risk of lung cancer from radon.

Cooperative Extension also offers presentations to schools, civic and community groups, homeowner associations, realtors, builders and the general public. They also exhibit at company wellness events, health fairs and home shows. If your group is interested in a presentation, contact the Nevada Radon Education Program at 1-888-RADON10 or myself at 775-463-6541.

From Dec. 1 to Feb. 28, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offers free radon test kits (normally $7 each). In Lyon County, you can get a test kit at the Lyon County Cooperative Extension, 504 S. Main St.

To find out more about radon, call the Radon Hotline at 1-888-Radon10 or visit

Lyon County Cooperative Extension office will have free radon test kits available starting December 1st. You don’t travel to Yerington very often? Joy Paterson, Susan Howe and Jamie Roice will be distributing test kits county wide on January 14th at the following locations:


Dayton Valley Branch Library 9:00am to 10:00am

321 Old Dayton Valley Rd.

Dayton, NV   89403


Fernley Branch Library 10:45am to 11:45 am

575 Sliver Lace Blvd.

Fernley, NV   89408


Silver Springs  at the Park and Ride at the intersection of HWY50 and ALT95 12:15pm to 1:15pm


Smith Valley Library 3:00pm to 4:00pm

22 Day Lane

Smith, NV   89430


Yerington Central Branch Library 5:00pm to 6:00pm

20 Nevin Way

Yerington, NV   89447


Cannot make those times? Want us to come give away Radon test kits at your meeting or location? Email Joy Paterson to see if a kit drop off or if someone from the Radon group can come to your meeting or location.

This week’s fruit is Oro Blanco Grapefruit and Butternut Squash Cubes.

Oro Blanco Grapefruit is excellent eaten fresh, but is also a great addition to salads or a sweeter substitute for other citrus in recipes. Oro blanco is a hybrid of pumelo and grapefruit and does not produce seeds. It has a very thick, pulpy skin that can be difficult to peel, but a sharp knife can make it much easier to get to the creamy flesh.

Butternut squash is a more familiar vegetable. It is great roasted, which sweetens and condenses its flavor. It can be seasoned simply with salt, mash with cream or butter, or sprinkle with any of the seasonings you might use with pumpkin like cinnamon, clove, ginger, or nutmeg. The seeds are also edible and can be roasted like pumpkin seeds. This vegetable is seasonally available in the fall and will last throughout the spring if stored in a cool, dry and dark place. Purchase squashes that are very firm with no soft spots. Eat squashes as soon as you detect softening.

This weeks produce is yam sticks and fresh pineapple.

There is often confusion between a yam and a sweet potato. While they have similar flavor and texture, allowing them to be used similarly in recipes, they are roots of completely different plants. Yams are from Africa and Asia and are closely related to lilly and grass species of plants. Sweet potatoes are from Central and South America and are closely related to morning glory plants. The confusion started when sweet potatoes were grown in the southern USA, where African slaves called the soft varieties of sweet potatoes “yams” because of the similarities to true yams that were part of their culinary history. Most produce available in supermarkets in the USA are sweet potatoes. Your students will be trying orange variety of sweet potatoes, aka “yams”, this week.

Sweet potatoes have a major role in southern cooking. If you want to try something a little different with sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving, try making a sweet potato pie. You can find many recipes online, but I just substitute equal amounts of cooked, mashed sweet potato instead of pumpkin puree in my favorite pumpkin pie recipe. If you must have toasted marshmallows with your sweet potatoes, you can decorate the top of the pie with them and broil the top in the oven for a few minutes to toast the top.

Fresh pineapple is one of my favorite fruits. Do not be intimidated by the whole fruit, it is easy to cut into the bite sized pieces you find re-packaged in the store. You usually end up with more fruit for your money. I cut off the top and the bottom, then slice down the sides to “peel” the outside. Then cut into chunks. You can eat the core, but it is too fibrous for most people. Each little hexagon on the outside of the fruit was, at one time, its own flower. As the flowers mature into the compound juicy fruits that we eat. Most pineapples do not have seeds because growers exclude the main pollinator of pineapples which are hummingbirds. The crown of a pineapple, the cluster of leaves at the top, can be used to propagate new pineapple plant. You can try to grow the next pineapple you purchase by suspending the base of the crown in water until roots begin to develop and transplanting it into a pot with soil.

By Susan Howe

Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that comes from the decay of uranium. It can accumulate in homes and where it can cause lung cancer. This type of lung cancer risk is preventable, and the only way to know if a home has elevated concentrations is to test for it.

The Environmental ProteMicrosoft PowerPoint - Radon Deaths Graph - to modify.pptxction Agency (EPA) has an action level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/l) of air. If a home is found to have radon concentrations at or above 4 pCi/l, action should be taken to reduce radon levels, reducing the risk of lung cancer. Living in a home with a yearly average of 4 pCi/l poses a similar risk of developing lung cancer as smoking about half a pack of cigarettes a day. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates radon causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States, killing more people than second-hand smoke, drunken driving, drowning or home fires.



In Lyon County, 29% of homes tested have elevated radon concentrations. The highest concentration found in Lyon County is 135 pCi/l (in Yerington), which is second to the highest in the state, 195 pCi/l (found in Washoe County).

From Dec. 1 to Feb. 29, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offers free radon test kits (normally $7 each) at the Lyon County Cooperative Extension office, 504 S. Main Street and at other locations throughout the state. Educational presentation(s) will be be held. If your community group is interested in hosting a presentation or if your group is having a function where we could distribute free test kits, email Joy Paterson.