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Citizen raises concern over local radon levels

Date Published: 01/21/2020 [Source]

According to a McCook citizen, over half of the homes in Red Willow County have high radon levels, prompting a discussion by city staff and the McCook City Council.

Jaune Lyons addressed the council Monday night and cited a recent assessment that found 54% of homes in Red Willow County have high radon levels. Lyons said cancer is the number one killer in Red Willow County, with radon the number two cause of lung cancer.

Lyons spoke after the city council approved updating the city's building codes to the 2018 International Building Codes. She asked the council to "be wise" with building codes concerning mitigation of radon. Mitigation is more expensive in existing houses rather than in new construction, she said.

City manager Nate Schneider said he and McCook Building inspector, Brian Mooney, have discussed that subject and found that radon mitigation is recommended but not required in new construction.

The varying levels of radon change dramatically within a few feet, Mooney said, making it difficult to determine where the high levels exist. As far as requirements, he likened it to underground water sprinklers, that are recommended in new construction but not mandated.

Lyons replied, "Sprinklers are one thing, cancer is another."

If it becomes mandatory and radon levels are low, that would cause a lot of unneccessary expense to property owners, Mayor Mike Gonzales said.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer, according to the EPA. Testing is the only way to find out the levels of exposure.