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Consider getting radon kit

The Mississippi State Department of Health is offering free radon test kits while supplies last this month during Radon Action Month.

Radon is an odorless, colorless gas and is the second leading cause of lung cancer nationwide. More than 20,000 Americans die of radon-related lung cancer each year. Radon also causes up to 15 percent of lung cancers worldwide.

Radon is a radioactive gas found in nature. Its source is natural uranium in the earth. Being a gas, radon moves upward out of the soil and into the air where it can enter and accumulate in homes. Uranium is found in most soils and in granite.

Radon moves from uranium-bearing granite deposits in the soil to atmosphere because there is a lower concentration of radon in the atmosphere than in the soil. Your home is sited in its path, and because the house is usually warmer than the surrounding soil, the air pressure is less and soil gases, including radon, move into the home. The most common routes are:

•spaces between basement walls and slab

•cracks in foundations and/or walls

•openings around sump pumps and drains

•construction joints

•crawl spaces

•showers, etc. using well water with high radon concentrations

While excessive levels of radon have been found in all 50 states, the MSDH says fewer than 3 percent of Mississippi homes have radon levels in excess of the Environmental Protection Agency recommended action level of four picoCuries (measurement of radioactivity) of radon per liter of air. However, because of the geology of the area, higher levels of radon are typically measured in northeastern Mississippi counties.

The MSDH does not service homes for high radon levels or perform radon testing but can assist homeowners in locating approved contractors for resolving radon problems that are found.

To test your home for radon, call the MSDH Radon hotline at 1-800-626-7739 for a free test kit. A test kit will be sent directly to you with testing instructions.

We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity for safety and are thankful for the state providing the service.