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 Protection 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.