Grant helps Jefferson County residents test for radon, raise awareness

The Jefferson County Environmental Health Company is urging residents to test their homes for radon.

In conjunction with Radon Action Month in January, Jefferson County was announced as one of twelve counties in Iowa to receive a grant from the Iowa Department of Public Health to promote radon testing and raise radon awareness. Radon is an naturally-occurring gas that is produced by decaying uranium in the soil.

Since radon is odorless, colorless and tasteless, many do not realize the gas could be in their home. And surprisingly, levels of radon are particularly high in Iowa. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, so this grant and this project is important to raise awareness.

"It's difficult for people to be alert to it or alarmed about it because it's not - again, it's colorless, its odorless, its tasteless, so you don't even know it's in your home, but what you don't know can hurt you," said Jefferson County Sanitarian Dan Miller. "So again, prevention is key."

After the new year, Miller will have 125 free radon test kits available at his office. Any resident of Jefferson County can come and pick one up, do the test at home and either phone or send in the results. Any home found with unhealthy levels of radiation will be suggested to undergo mitigation to get rid of the gas. The process involves installing a pipe beneath the home, and though it can run a few thousand dollars, the consequences of living with radon year after year can be deadly.

Another part of the grant involves education, and Miller will be speaking to schools in the area about having their buildings tested for radon on a regular basis.

The radon tests kits are available at the Environmental Health office in the Jefferson County Highway Department building at 901 N. 8th St. in Fairfield. They will be available starting January 2 and can be picked up between 9 a.m. and noon.

For any questions, call Jefferson County Environmental Health at 641-472-2561.