September 18, 2006
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is offering Texans free kits to test for radon levels in their homes.
Radon is an odorless colorless gas that develops with the natural breakdown of uranium in soil and rock. The gas can come up from the soil and into a home or building through pipes, drains, cracks in the foundation or other openings.
If radon is inhaled over a long period of time, it can increase the risk of lung cancer, according to Kay Soper, DSHS environmental specialist.
“Radon isn’t a big problem in Texas, but it’s important to know if radon is present at harmful levels in your home. That’s why we’re offering the free kits,” Soper said. “It’s very easy to test for radon, and if a high level is found, it can be reduced with proper ventilation.”
Test kits can be ordered by calling 1-800-293-0753 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The radon test kit includes a small charcoal-filled plastic case, detailed instructions and a postage-paid envelope.
The plastic case is placed in the home for two days and then sent to Alpha Energy Laboratories for a free analysis. Results are usually available within two to three weeks.
According to United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, most Texas homes are located in areas of “low potential” for elevated radon levels. But 39 out of Texas’ 254 counties have a “moderate potential” rating. Most of these counties are in West and Northwest Texas. No Texas counties fall in the EPA’s “highest potential” category.
A map of radon zones in Texas is online at www.dshs.state.tx.us/radiation/radon.shtm.
According to the EPA, radon is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year.
(News media: for more information contact Kay Soper, DSHS Environmental Health Group, 512-834-6773, ext. 2428; or Carrie Williams, DSHS Press Office, 512-458-7400.)