January is the month to take action, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- action against radon.
The EPA is observing January as National Radon Action Month. Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally. You can't see it, you can't smell it, but it's likely found in many homes throughout the country. It's a by-product of the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil and rock around your home.
The National Cancer Institute stresses that people are exposed to it and don't realize it. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind smoking. Tests are available for residents so they can check the radon levels in their homes, regardless of whether the home sets on a basement, crawl space or slab.
Defiance County Health Department's website notes that in Ohio, there are about 7,700 new lung cancer cases each year. And of those new cases, radon is linked to at least 900 of them.
Ron Clinger, local health department sanitarian, reported that the University of Toledo maintains a radon website for the state. Radon test kits are available for $7.95 through www.ohio.radon.com.
Kits are also available at local hardware stores but following the testing period, the kits still have to be sent to a licensed testing lab to determine radon levels.
The health department's website suggests action should be taken if a home's radon level is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/l) or higher. Levels above 4 pCi/l increase one's risk of lung cancer.
Clinger added that levels of radon would be less on the first and second floors as compared to the basement or crawl space.
Local figures for northwest Ohio on the Defiance County Health Department's website show the following radon exposures: Defiance, 21.2 pCi/l maximum, .1 pCi/l minimum; Antwerp, 7.6 maximum, 1 minimum; Archbold, 19.4 maximum, .2 minimum; Napoleon, 19.5 maximum, .1 minimum; and Bryan, 53.4 maximum, .1 minimum.
Among the highest radon readings in the state are: Granville, 1,400; Steubenville, 927.6; and Howard, 844.
Following completion of a testing procedure, a radon mitigation system can be installed if necessary. That could range anywhere from $600 to $1200 in Ohio homes.