January 'Radon Action Month' Takes on New Importance During Pandemic

January ‘Radon Action Month’ Takes on New Importance During Pandemic

 

In the midst of a pandemic, it’s easy to forget the dangers associated with radon gas in Kane County.

But in the midst of a pandemic, when so many people are working from home or engaged in remote learning, now might be the most important time to become aware of the issue and to take action.

The Kane County Health Department reports that the average radon level in nearly every Kane County zip code is above the recommended action level — and testing your own home is the only way to know your radon number.

Most radon exposure occurs in the home, where people spend the most time. Because radon has no taste, smell, or color, a home must be tested to find out how much radon is in the air.

There is no safe level for radon, but the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General recommended action level for fixing homes is at or above 4pCi/L.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally from the breakdown of uranium. Rocks and soil can contain uranium. Radon gas can enter through cracks in homes, buildings and schools, exposing expose people to the radiation.

When people breathe in radon, it damages the lungs, which can cause lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The EPA estimates that 21,000 yearly lung cancer U.S. deaths are associated with radon.

Radon Data in Kane County

According to the 2006 Status Report for Radon in Illinois, 36% of the homes in Illinois are above the US EPA Action Level. If a home/building/school tests at 4 pCi/L or higher, action needs to be taken to remove the radon.

The average indoor radon levels of Kane County, as determined by radon test results from Air Check, Inc, is 5 pCi/L.

Radon levels for Kane County by Zip Code – pdf

Radon Action Month in Illinois

Recognizing the importance of early detection and its impact on the health, life, and safety of all Illinois residents, Gov. JB Pritzker proclaimed January 2021 as Radon Action Monthin Illinois.  With this proclamation, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is urging all residents to take time this month to test their home for radon.

The United States Surgeon General has warned that radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Statistics show radon has been found in nearly 40 percent of the homes tested in Illinois.  In Illinois, the central and northern regions of the state are shown to have higher levels of radon in the soil.

“With more people staying home, working and learning remotely, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is making radon awareness a priority,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “It’s estimated that more than 1,100 people in Illinois develop radon-related lung cancer each year. It is important that people realize that radon can be found in older buildings and new constructions. A simple home test is an inexpensive and easy way to know if you and your family is at risk.”

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. This odorless, colorless, tasteless gas comes from the natural breakdown of the soil, and it enters buildings through small cracks in the foundation, sump pits, crawl spaces, floor drains and more.  When radon gas mixes with outside air it can become concentrated inside buildings. If not properly mitigated, radon gas can reach drastically high levels and cause major health concerns.

Raising Awareness

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is teaming up with the American Lung Association in Illinois to increase public awareness of radon risks and ways to reduce radon exposure.  IEMA and ALAIL announced the continuation of two statewide contest that encourages students to use their creative talents to promote radon awareness.

The Radon Video Contest asks Illinois high school students to create a 30 second commercial style video, while the Radon Poster Contest asks middle school students to create a poster that will encourage people to test their homes for radon.

Radon Poster Contest

Radon Video Contest

Eligibility

Students Age 9-14

All High School Students

Registration Status

Now Open

Now Open

Submissions Due

March 5

March 21

First Prize

$200

$1000 (student), $300 (school)

Second Prize

$150

$750 (student), $200 (school)

Third Prize

$100

$500 (student), $100 (school)

Honorable Mention

n/a

$250 (student)

All contest prizes are funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Both contests are sponsored by IEMA, ALAIL and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5.

In 2020, Illinois took home top honors in the National Radon Video Contest. The video, What’s Your Radon, was produced by Girl Scout Troop 41592 and comprised of students from Barrington High School. The top posters and videos from the 2020 state contests can be viewed on IEMA’s radon website at www.radon.illinois.gov.

The website also includes information about radon and lists of licensed measurement and mitigation professionals.  Information is also available through IEMA’s Radon Hotline at 800-325-1245.

SOURCE: Kane County Health Department, state of Illinois news release