Pike County Times
The Pike County Times, PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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Elevated Levels of Radon in Pike County Put Some at Risk for Lung Cancer

ZEBULON - Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that causes lung cancer. Every 25 minutes someone dies from radon induced lung cancer. During Radon Action Month this January, UGA experts are advising you to test your home for radon both in your air and well water.

When uranium, which occurs naturally in Georgia soil and rock, breaks down, it produces radon gas. Radon is a heavy gas which seeps into homes from the ground and concentrates in the lower levels of a house in the air. Radon can be present in any home, regardless of the age or type of home. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that about 6.7% of homes nationwide have elevated levels of radon gas; however, in some counties the levels are higher. In Pike County, between March 2003 and July 2017, 20% of the homes tested had elevated levels of radon. An elevated level of radon is anything at, or above, 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Being exposed to a level of 4 pCi/L has similar health effects as smoking 8 cigarettes per day. The highest level tested in Pike County was 15.7 pCi/L; this is almost four times greater than the action level and similar to smoking over a pack of cigarettes a day.

The only way to know if your home has a high level of radon is to test. Radon test kits are affordable and readily available. Radon air test kits are available from several sources, including local retailers, some county Extension offices and by ordering online at www.UGAradon.org. Kits purchased online cost $13 and include the kit, shipping, lab analysis, and test results.

Radon may also be found in drinking water. This is primarily a concern for individuals whose drinking water comes from private wells. In Georgia, wells drilled into granitic crystalline rock aquifers are at risk of naturally occurring radon contamination due to naturally decaying uranium. If you do not know if there is radon in your well water, have the water tested. The UGA Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories in Athens tests water samples for the presence of radon. To get a water testing kit, contact the UGA Extension Pike County office at 770.567.2010 or brooklyne.wassel@uga.edu.

If the radon level in your home is high, it is fixable. Installing a radon reduction (or radon mitigation) system will reduce high levels of indoor radon to safe levels. The system most commonly used is a vent pipe system, which includes a fan that pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it to the outside. A list of Radon mitigation professionals can be found at www.UGAradon.org or by contacting the Pike County Extension office at 770.567.2010.

If you are interested in learning more about how radon affects you and your home, please contact the Pike County Extension office, and join us for our Radon Action Month Workshop on January 30, 2019 at the Spalding County Extension office from 6:00 until 8:00. There will be a radon expert there to answer all questions as well as testing kits available to take home. Make Radon Action Month the time you decide to take action to test your home for something that could be silently making you and your family sick. Take the first step; test your home today.

Submitted 1.9.19