Radon persists at Lake Tahoe south shore

Adam Jensen
Sun news service

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE and#8212; A recently released report from the California Geological Survey shows the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the nation still poses a significant risk to residents of the Lake Tahoe Basin, especially those on the South Shore.

and#8220;Radon Potential in the Lake Tahoe Area, Californiaand#8221; finds that an estimated 23,400 people in the Lake Tahoe area live in buildings where radon is likely to equal or exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended action level of 4 picocuries per liter, according to a press release from El Dorado County’s Department of Environmental Management.

The basement measurement from one house from the survey was more than 20 times the EPA’s recommended action level, according to the report.

Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive case that arises from the decay of naturally occurring uranium and thorium in soil. The gas is linked to 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year, second only to cigarette smoking, according to the EPA.

and#8220;The highest radon potential areas found during the mapping process are located in the South Lake Tahoe area, the Truckee area and in an area immediately north of Emerald Bay,and#8221; according to the county release.

The report was based on geological data, as well as results from a survey of 443 homes in South Lake Tahoe between 2006 and 2007.

According to the survey, about 40 percent of homes in the Lake Tahoe area are at or above the EPA’s recommended action level, while approximately 55 percent of homes in the El Dorado County portion of the basin who participated in the survey are at or above the recommended action level.

The prevalence of radon can vary from house to house depending on the differences in home construction, the age of a home and the type of soil it is built on, said Ginger Huber, the Environ-mental Management Department’s Tahoe division manager.

and#8220;It’s important that you test your home because you might have radon where your neighbor doesn’t,and#8221; Huber said.

Although the county has approved radon testing for some of its buildings, Huber noted that radon poses the most risk in structures where people spend most of their time.

and#8220;The highest risk is in your home because that’s where you are the majority of the time,and#8221; Huber said. and#8220;It’s just important that you test your home, and if there are high levels, that you mitigate it.and#8221;

Mitigation techniques include ventilation systems that prevent radon from accumulating to potentially harmful levels inside buildings.

Although the Geological Survey covers only the California side of the Lake Tahoe Basin, earlier this year the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension reported nearly 60 percent of homes in Stateline, Glenbrook and Zephyr Cove have elevated radon levels.

A limited number of free short-term test kits are available to El Dorado County residents at the County’s Environmental Manage-ment office at 338 Lake Tahoe Blvd., Suite 303. Kits are also available at some local hardware stores, according to the statement.

Winter is the ideal time to test for radon because houses are generally sealed tighter during those months, but initial screening can be done any time of year.

The radon report for the Tahoe area is available on the California Department of Conservation’s Web site at:

and#8212; The Nevada Appeal contributed to this report.

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