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Expert: Radon Testing Is Vital To Ensure Long-Term Health

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Expert: Radon Testing Is Vital To Ensure Long-Term Health

Radon testing is vital for everyone to make sure your family avoids the risk of lung cancer.

Governor Bill Lee proclaimed January as Radon Action Month. Tennessee Radon Program Program Officer Lexi Brown said radon is a naturally-occurring gas that can get into homes as uranium breaks down in the soil underneath them. Brown said testing is important because radon is odorless, tasteless, and undetectable for the average person.

“One of the things that radon doesn’t do is cause immediate effects, which is why it can be a riskier thing,” Brown said. “Because you don’t know at all that you’re being exposed to it until you develop lung cancer. So it doesn’t have any coughing or sneezing or anything like that.”

Brown said there are mitigation systems that can be installed if a test reveals elevated amounts of radon that will greatly reduce them. Free tests are available through the Tennessee Radon Program’s website.

She said homes should be re-tested for radon every two years regardless of if they have had high levels in the past.

“It’s a small envelope that hangs in your home,” Brown said. “You just hang it up or, you know, set it in a bedroom or somewhere. And you don’t have to leave or anything. And it just collects a sample for three to seven days. And then you seal it back up and we also provide postage for it to go back to the laboratory. And they’ll analyze it there and send you the results back.”

Brown said radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Brown said about one in five homes they test have elevated radon levels.

“It comes from a naturally occurring source in the ground,” Brown said. “So once you do that, and it’s reduced, then it’s something that greatly reduces your risk of developing lung cancer in the future.”

Radon does not generally present a health risk outdoors because it is diluted in the open air. Brown said east Tennessee tends to have higher amounts of radon than other areas of the state.

“Some regions think, ‘I’m at a lower risk. I don’t need to test my home.’” Brown said. “But we have found high levels in every single county so it really is necessary to test.”


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