The Sarpy/Cass Health Department is urging residents to test their homes for radon gas.
Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless and colorless gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water.
Because radon is a gas, it can enter buildings through small cracks and other openings in the foundation. Once inside, it decays into alpha particles that damage the DNA of lung tissue, a major cause of lung cancer, according to a health department press release.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that radon causes between 15,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths every year in the United States.
“Indoor radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the United States. Breathing radon over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk,” Jenny Steventon, the health department’s environmental health coordinator, said in a press release. “This threat is preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple, inexpensive test and fixed through affordable venting techniques.”
Free short-term radon test kits are available to Sarpy and Cass County residents at the health department’s office, 701 Olson Drive Ste. 101.
The kits, available while supplies last, are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and quantities are limited.
“The Sarpy/Cass Health Department recommends that everyone test their home for radon, either by hiring a licensed radon professional or using do-it-yourself short-term or long-term home test kits,” Steventon said. “Short-term tests are run for approximately 48 hours and give a snapshot of the radon buildup over those two days. Long-term tests are run for up to one year and reveal a better representation of what the radon levels are like during normal living conditions.”
Steventon recommends first testing with a short-term test kit.