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Radon testing, remediation worth expense
We've know or have heard of people who have contracted lung cancer, "but have never smoked a day in their lives."
We've also heard anecdotal evidence, and some empirical as well, of high cancer rates in Nebraska.
The answer could lie with radon, which health experts know is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, and the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.
It's a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas, that enters homes and buildings through the breakdown of uranium in the soil and can't be detected unless it is tested for.
One of every two Nebraska homes tests has having high radon levels -- above 4.0 pCi/L -- and most of Southwest Nebraska falls into the high category.
Engineers and public health officials have recognized the threat, and radon-resistant new construction is a requirement in McCook.
Finding out whether your home has a radon problem is inexpensive, and compared to dealing with the consequences, so is dealing with the problem.
The Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to educate Americans about the dangers during January Radon Action Month.
SWNPHD will supply a radon test kit through the mail for $13 or picked up at its McCook office for $10.
If it turns out your home has high concentrations of radon, ways of dealing with it start at about $500 for a do-it-yourselfer fix, with professional radon mitigation services available.
Since there are no immediate symptoms that will alert you to the presence of radon and it can take years of exposure before health symptoms appear, the U.S. EPA, Surgeon General, American Lung Association, American Medical Association and National Safety Council all recommend testing your home.
The office is at 404 West 10th Street, one block north of Arby's.