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Home Radon Testing - Chuck Lynch, MD, PhD

hello I'm dr. Chuck Lynch from the

College of Public Health and the College

of Medicine at the University of Iowa

I'd like to talk to you today about

residential radon and lung cancer lung

cancer is the leading cause of cancer

death in the United States and in Iowa

radon is a naturally occurring gas you

can't see it you can't smell it and you

can't taste it and in that sense it's

similar to carbon monoxide but you can

measure it and that's what we're going

to talk about today how it gets into

your home how you can measure it and if

it's elevated how you can get it out of

your home so most of us live in a home

and this home often has a basement in it

which means it's surrounded by soil on

the sides and underneath this is the

primary source of radon and it's coming

from the decay of small amounts of

uranium so it's a decay product of

uranium and it emits a radioactive

particle so the way radon can enter in

your home is through cracks in your

basement wall or in your basement floor

in addition you can have a sump pump in

your basement and you could also have a

bath tub or a shower down there in hot

water and cold water need to get to that

in some way and that can lead to breaks

in your basement flooring as well radon

levels are typically highest in the

basement level of the home but depending

upon how air circulates in your home you

can move it around so you can move it up

to your bedroom this type of thing now

you can buy these radon detectors at

your local hardware store they cost a

few dollars typically they'll have

instructions with it and they'll tell

you to place it in the basement of your

home you'll leave it there for a few

days they'll give you instructions as to

where the sentient you'll get a report

back about the reading which is why you

did the test in the first place in this

reading you will see that a number will

be associated with it the number you're

looking for is a number less than four

but if it's four or greater it means

that you've reached the level of action

indicated by the Environmental

Protection Agency which means they would

recommend that you lessen the radon

levels in your home we call that process

radon mitigation now with this process

there are professionals available who

can come into your home and assist you

with this problem but before you go to

that if you have an elevated level in

your basement and you don't spend much

time in your basement you should

consider where do I spend time in my

home and you should place a detector in

that area if it is greater than four you

want to consider lessening the radon

level that's going to involve sealing up

these cracks so that the gas can't get

in including around your bathtub and any

other words where you have breakages in

your wall or your basement floor and

then putting a seal over this sump pump

now these seals still allow yourself

pump to work to move water out there

they're made just for this problem and

typically what you'll do then is around

the home they'll drill about a four-inch

diameter hole in your basement floor

remove that piece of cement dig that out

the soil around that and this is going

to be a place where radon gas can

accumulate never get into your home

they'll place a pipe around this and

bring it to the up along the wall of

your home and then to the outside and

then vent it up above your roof and

they'll place a fan on it and this fan

will create the suction that actually

moves the radon gas from underneath and

around your home so it never enters into

it and it lowers the level to a safe

level doing this is very important here

in Iowa because seven out of ten homes

here in this state have elevated radon

levels during closed home conditions

that would be during the summertime with

air conditioning or during the winter

with a heating the other thing I'd like

to point out is don't depend on your

neighbors to indicate to you what your

radon level is it can vary greatly from

home to home in the same neighborhood so

you should measure your own home

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