Your Health Matters: Radon levels high in Iowa, health professionals urge home testing

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It’s the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. If you live in Iowa, radon may already be affecting you in your own home.
You don’t know it’s a problem until the damage has been done unless you get your home tested. That’s why a local Mercy clinic is so serious about saving lives by spreading awareness about radon.
Paul Niles, a certified physician’s assistant, found that just a few years ago, many of his patients at the Akron Mercy Medical Clinic weren’t really sure what radon is.
“Most people confuse radon with carbon monoxide,” Niles comments.
That’s why they’re passionate about educating the community.
Radon gas, which is found underground, gets trapped in homes and other buildings. Iowa has especially high levels. You can’t taste it or smell it, which is why it’s important to test your home.
Niles says, “Where do we spend most of our time? You’re spending it at home, at school, at your business. I mean, this affects everyone.”
A small kit can test for a presence of the dangerous gas. If you get a reading under 4, you’re fine.
If it’s higher, you’ll want to think about having a radon mitigation system installed.
They’re practicing what they preach at the Akron clinic. Their mitigation system was installed a few years ago. A pipe, along with a fan, pulls radon out from under your basement and pipes it outside, where it can’t hurt you.
“Every county has high levels of radon. While you’re outside in the environment, it doesn’t really cause any health problems, but it’s when you’re in confined spaces that it can really do damage to the lungs.”
Home and businesses of any age can be affected, causing 400 deaths from lung cancer each year in Iowa alone.
“It doesn’t matter if you have this really nice, brand-new home or you don’t have such a nice home,” Niles says. “Everyone is affected by this and everyone should test.”
You can get a radon testing kits for less than 10-bucks at Siouxland District Health or your local hardware store.
Another important note: if you have your home treated, make sure you hire a credentialed mitigation company. 
There are four in the Sioux City Metro. You can find information about them through the Iowa Dept. of Public Health‘s website.

For more about purchasing a radon testing kit, visit Siouxland District Health online or call 712-279-6119.

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