Radon: You could almost say Douglas County glows | SierraSun.com

Radon: You could almost say Douglas County glows

Kurt Hildebrand
Nevadans are being urged to test their homes for radon, and free test kits will be available statewide starting Jan. 2.

With the highest per capita number of homes tested for radon in the state, Douglas County is a hot spot for the odorless, colorless gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers.

While statewide, a quarter of homes tested show radon above the Environmental Protection Agency’s action level, in Douglas it’s closer to 38 percent.

The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is making presentations at three town boards and Douglas County commissioners this week.

According to the state, as of Sept. 30, 3,996 homes have been tested, with 1,511 testing above the limit.

Nevada Radon Education Program Director Susan Howe said she is a member of a committee working on revising building codes to include radon detection and correction.

She said that once the work on the suggested code is completed, each jurisdiction will be asked to approve it.

“My hopes are high that we will be able to protect the people who don’t know about radon,” she said.

Proponents of testing and correction say that it can help increase the value of a home, especially in places like Douglas County where a higher percentage of homes test over the limit.

Radon occurs naturally as one of the byproducts of the decay of radioactive minerals in granite. The Sierra is a large granodiorite batholith, and so the closer homes are to the mountains, the more likely they are to test positive for radon.

Slightly more than two-thirds of the homes tested at Stateline have tested higher than the recommended level for the gas.

But being in the middle of the Valley doesn’t mean there’s no radon, which seeps into homes through cracks in the foundation.

Testing in Gardnerville has found slightly less than a third of the homes have turned up with radon levels above the limit of 4 picocuries per liter. About a quarter of the homes in Minden have had higher levels.

Mitigation is generally done by installing an air pump and vent in the subfloor to intercept the radon gas before it gets into the house.

Howe said the procedure can also help homeowners with mold issues under their homes.

The Gardnerville Town Board is scheduled to hear a request to proclaim January radon action month 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The towns of Minden and Genoa, and the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District are expected to follow suit on Wednesday, with Howe making a presentation to Douglas County commissioners for a proclamation on Thursday, Howe said.

Presentations on radon are being conducted 6 p.m. Jan. 23 at Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 128 Market St., Stateline and at 6 p.m. Feb. 8 at the CVIC Hall in Minden.

Free radon testing kits are available at the meetings and at the Douglas County Cooperative Extension, 1325 Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville.

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