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Dangerous Levels of Radon Affect Majority of ND Homes

PHOTO: Homeowners are being urged to take action this month by testing for radon. The invisible gas is a leading cause of lung cancer and is present at high levels in a majority of North Dakota homes. Photo courtesy of National Cancer Institute.
PHOTO: Homeowners are being urged to take action this month by testing for radon. The invisible gas is a leading cause of lung cancer and is present at high levels in a majority of North Dakota homes. Photo courtesy of National Cancer Institute.
January 19, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. - It really is often a matter of out of sight, out of mind, but radon is a deadly danger in more homes than not in every part of the state, and the message on the importance of testing is clear. Justin Otto, radon coordinator with the North Dakota Department of Health, says the radioactive gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer, but most are unaware of the naturally occurring threat.

"Radon is an invisible gas that comes up from the ground from the decay of uranium," says Otto. "A lot of people don't know it's in their homes because you can't smell it, you can't taste it. The only way they know it's there is if they test their home for radon."

Radon test kits can be purchased at most hardware stores and during January, National Radon Action Month, kits are available for free through the North Dakota Department of Health.

If a home is found to have high levels, Otto says the fix can be relatively simple with a radon mitigation system.

"A radon mitigation system is pretty much like PVC pipe with a special radon fan," Otto says. "You can install one yourself for around $200 to $300. Or you can hire a professional to install it, if you're not considered a handy person."

Otto says the number of homes in North Dakota with elevated levels of radon that should be mitigated is estimated at about 63 percent, compared to the national figure of around seven percent.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND