Radon test kits offered at no cost by Ohio Department of Health

STEUBENVILLE — In recognition of January being National Radon Action Month, the Ohio Department of Health is encouraging Ohioans to test their homes for the radioactive gas and take steps to reduce risk if elevated levels are detected.

Jefferson County Health Commissioner Nicole Balakos said radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

“Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and is found in homes in all counties in Ohio,” she said. “Radon is a cancer-causing gas that is produced when the uranium breaks down. It can enter your home through the pressure in the soil around the home foundation. If you test for it, the radon can be mitigated like other home repairs.”

Colorless and odorless, radon is produced naturally with the decay of uranium in rocks and soil, according to the state health department. It can migrate into any type of home through cracks or openings in the foundation.

According to data collected by the state health department’s radon education and licensing program, elevated levels of the gas have been found in homes in all 88 Ohio counties. It’s estimated that such levels are present in about half of all Ohio homes.

Balakos said the state health department recommends homeowners test every two years or after renovations, including the installation of windows, exterior doors, insulation, a roof or a furnace or air conditioner.

“If elevated levels are detected, it is important to act to protect yourself and your family,” Balakos said

The state health department licenses radon mitigation contractors. Homeowners, before hiring a contractor, are urged to use the state health department’s contractor locator service, get more than one estimate, ask for references and check with a reliable consumer group. The state health department offers free testing kits to Ohio homeowners with household incomes less than $80,500 through this link: doctorhomeair.com/ohio-free/. Others can order the kits for a discounted $10.95 through the same link, which includes analysis.

Homeowners can also have their home evaluated by a radon tester licensed by the state health department to follow specific protocols. The state health department’s radon education and licensing program is federally funded and works in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local health departments across Ohio.

For general questions about radon’s health effects or to discuss radon testing, contact the state health department’s radon education staff at (800) 523-4439 or at indoor.radon@odh.ohio.gov.