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Free radon tests available for National Radon Action Month

Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 7:18 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Free radon testing kits are being handed out in January in honor of National Radon Action Month.

The goal of the awareness month is to make people aware of the radioactive gas and to get people to test their homes.

Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys Geologist Jennifer Athey said radon naturally comes up of the ground and gets concentrated in homes and can even cause lung cancer.

“If you’re breathing a larger concentration of radon for 5 to 30 years, that is something that people should be concerned about,” she said. “In the short term, it’s more important for people to test and find out about it.”

Nationwide, Athey said, 1 in 15 homes have levels above what the environmental protection agency considers action level, but there isn’t a statistic for Alaska locally.

However, Athey said they know enough about radon in Alaska to say there is the same concern as the rest of the country, there just isn’t enough data to give a precise statistic. But there is a map showing where known levels are.

The hope is people will test and share their results to add to the data.

Athey said the tests are easy to use. You just use it in your home for 3 to 7 days and then immediately send it to a lab to be analyzed.

“In general, people should test for radon about every five years. However, if there is a significant earthquake, or if they’ve done modifications to their homes, or change their airflow within their homes, it’s good to test after those events, because that can cause more radon to come into your house. "

If your test comes back high, you can do things like plug holes and tape tears in vapor barriers, or change settings on heat ventilation systems. Or you may need extra support from a contractor to help the problem.

You can contact the Alaska Radon Hotline at 1-(800) 478-8324.

To get a free test in email or call Athey in January at jennifer.athey@alaska.gov or (907) 451-5028.

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