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Tests indicate lincoln county residents at greater risk of exposure to radon

Date Published: 01/30/2020 [Source]

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that comes from the natural decay of rocks with radioactive minerals in them that lie unsuspected below one's home, which is a geologic phenomenon that is a lot more prevalent in Nevada than most people would guess. More importantly, what the average person doesn't know is that radon is considered to be the number one cause of lung cancer in the United States for those who don't smoke. Current statistics show that 21,000 people die in America from radon each year, and Lincoln County has one of the worst track records when it comes to the dangers of radon. In fact, it is estimated that radon kills more people annually in the U.S. than secondhand smoke, drunk driving, and home fires combined.

Previous testing indicates that 1 in 3 homes in Lincoln County is inundated with radon exposure that is classified in the unhealthy range. This means that fully 33% of the residents of Lincoln county are at-risk for radon poisoning. That is a number that is higher on average in this county than anywhere else in Nevada, where the typical risk is 1 in 4 homes.

According to data received from the University of Nevada, Reno, certain portions of Lincoln County are under greater radon threat than others. While no portion of the county should be considered safe until testing is conducted, the prime danger areas include Caliente, Pioche, and Panaca with Panaca being most likely to have hazardous levels of this poisonous gas. Specifically, the portions of Lincoln County that have the highest risk of radon poisoning fall under the following zipcode areas: 89008, 89017, 89042, and 89043. The single zipcode area in Lincoln County that potentially suffers a moderate risk is 89001.

Moreover, January and February are the most dangerous times of the year, when it comes to potential radon poisoning. That is because these are the coldest months, when people tend to keep all windows and doors closed as much as possible, which means that radon can build up to more dangerous levels in the stale inside air of winter than in any other time of year.

Fortunately, January and February are also officially "Radon Months," which means that a home testing kit is available for free to any home owner or renter in Lincoln County. All one has to do, wherever they live in the county, is contact their local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Office at (775) 726-3109, and request that a free kit be made available to them. Afterward, simply come down to the office on 360 Lincoln Street in Caliente to pick it up at a pre-arranged time.

The best location to place the radon tester is inside a room that is well-used and represents the lowest area in the house. If one has a basement, downstairs living room, or lower bedroom, it would be the most recommended place to test. Radon is a heavier gas, so it tends to sink to the lower levels of a residence, and since the source of the radon comes from below a home, it makes sense to place the tester closest to the source. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean placing the tester on the floor, however, because one needs to determine the levels of radon in the air where a resident breathes, so it's best to place the tester on a table or other piece of furniture that is at least a few feet high. It's also important to know where not to conduct the test. Along those lines, it's best not to place the testing kit where heaters are blowing or anywhere near any forms of ventilation, other than the air that might come in from a door opening and closing occasionally.

A common question concerning radon is the symptoms a person might experience who has been exposed to too much radon for too long. In truth, there are no symptoms of radon poisoning, per se. Instead, radon can cause lung cancer, and it is the lung cancer that produces the symptoms. Accordingly, symptoms of lung cancer include a persistent, nagging cough; coughing up blood; wheezing that doesn't go away; shortness of breath; hoarseness; chest pain, especially when one coughs or laughs; frequent infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia; and weight loss without trying.

If a home is determined to be unsafe due to elevated radon levels, it doesn't mean the house should be destroyed. Mitigation of radon can be accomplished by either hiring experts or by doing-it-yourself. The titles of the DIY guides for radon mitigation procedures can be acquired from the Cooperative Extension Office, as can the names of contractors who will do the work for them, if the homeowner prefers, which generally involves creating safer ventilation and exhaust ports near the major source and entry way of the radon gas.