FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Having your home tested is the only effective way to determine whether you or your family is at risk of exposure to radon, a radioactive gas responsible for thousands of lung cancer deaths each year.
The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and the American Cancer Society is reminding residents to have their homes tested for radon. Free test kits are available from the health department while supplies last or can be purchased for less than $20 at hardware and home improvement stores.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas found throughout the environment that enters homes through cracks in the floor or spaces around utility pipes and can reach harmful levels when trapped inside buildings.
According the American Cancer Society, exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. The group recommends that people exposed to high levels of radon over long periods of time talk with their doctor about whether they should get regular checkups and tests to look for possible signs of lung cancer. The Society also says those exposed to high levels of radon be aware of possible symptoms of lung cancer, such as shortness of breath, a new or worsening cough, pain or tightness in the chest, hoarseness, or trouble swallowing, and report any of these symptoms to their doctor.
Although no level of radon is considered absolutely safe, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends taking action when levels are above 4.0 pCi/L inside a home. For comparison, the average indoor radon level is about 1.3 pCi/L, and the average outdoor level is about 0.4 pCi/L in the United States. Homes in Allen County have a “high potential” for elevated radon levels, according to the EPA.
“Since you cannot see or smell radon, the only way to know for sure if you have a radon issue is to test,” says Dave Fiess, director of Vector Control and Environmental Services. “Testing is easy and should only take a few minutes of your time. The best time to test is in the winter, but testing can be done year-round.”
Test kits can be picked up Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the health department’s administrative office on the third floor of Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St., or from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Vector Control and Environmental Services, 2242 Carroll Road.
The free radon test kits can also be picked up at the following locations:
- Grabill Town Hall, 13717 1st St.; Mon. – Thurs., 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Leo-Cedarville Town Hall, 13909 Pony Express Run; Mon.– Fri., 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Monroeville Utility Department; call (260) 740-8041 or 740-8042 for information.
- New Haven City Hall, Utility Payment Office, 815 Lincoln Hwy. E.; Mon.– Fri., 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Woodburn City Hall, 22735 Main St.; Mon.– Fri., 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This short-term test is placed in the home in a couple of days. The kit is sealed and mailed in for analysis. If elevated levels are found, radon can be reduced with a proper mitigation system installed by a professional.
Radon is a natural, radioactive gas that is colorless, tasteless, and odorless. It is formed from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil, rocks, and water under homes and can seep up from the ground into buildings through cracks in foundations, basement walls, and sump pumps. Long-term exposure to radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The only way to know if you are being exposed to radon in your home is to run a test.