This past fall, two of my children entered our state’s Radon Poster Contest sponsored by the health department. To enter, students were to design a poster showing that radon is a harmful gas that can affect people in their own homes.
Right before Christmas, my daughter Cassie learned that she had won first place for our state! It took us a little while to coordinate everything with the health department, but this week, she received her award. And the rest of us received some good information.
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that forms naturally under the ground. When buildings are constructed over radon, it seeps into the building and becomes trapped. Depending on how much radon is present, the results can be deadly, as it’s the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. The representative from the health department told us of a young mother of three in our town who passed away from lung cancer a few years ago; the cause, they decided, was radon in her home.
“How do we test for it?” someone asked. Testing is done with a kit that you can either purchase at a home improvement store or get from your health department. After letting it sit in your house for a few days, you mail it off to a lab for the results.
If you test your home and find high levels of radon, what then? Fortuanately, there is a way to fix it. A ventilation system (they call it a mitigation system) can be installed under your home to allow the radon to escape before it ever enters the building. Newer homes, we were told, are often built with this system in already in place.
We also talked about the segment aired a couple of weeks ago on the Today Show about radon and it’s potential danger in the public schools. In one classroom that was tested, young elementary students were exposed to as much radon as if they were smoking a half a pack of cigarettes a day!
The poster contest was a success! Cassie received a lot of prizes, our co-op received a monetary prize, but most of all, we all learned about radon and how to protect our families.
Are you children interested in entering? Check online to see if your state offers the poster contest. And be sure to check out the 2011 winners here!