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Carin Booth: Healthy Homes Month a good time to check for radon
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Today is the official first day of summer, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. Summer brings the outdoor fun and, for many of us, finding a cool spot inside to beat the heat.

A recent study found that most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors. I think it is safe to say having a healthy place to call home is important. So important in fact that Gov. Nathan Deal issued a proclamation declaring June as National Healthy Homes Month. This is to increase public awareness regarding the dangers of health or safety hazards in the home.

A healthy home includes eight basic principles: clean, dry, pest-free, safe, contaminant-free, ventilated, well-maintained and temperature-controlled. You can also visit the extension office for a copy of Healthy Homes: Room by Room Checklist, or visit www.hud.gov/healthyhomes for more information.

In order to be safe in our homes, we need to educate ourselves on possible pollutants and contaminants. One contaminant in particular in our area is radon gas. Recently compiled data showed that 35 percent of the 3,181 households tested in Hall County presented elevated levels of radon in their homes. This means the radon level indoors was greater than or equal to 4 picocuries per liter. (Data cited are from several private companies, starting in 1993, and UGA Extension data starting in 2003. Sources: Dr. Pamela Turner: Extension Housing Specialist, Gabrielle Dean: Radon Educator, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, www.hud.gov/healthyhomes.)

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless. The only way to know it is in our homes is to test for it.

Since it is naturally occurring, there will always be trace amounts around us, and that is OK. It only becomes harmful to us if we are exposed to high levels over long periods of time.

The good news is that high levels of exposure to the gas are preventable. You can test your home and lower the levels in your home if necessary. Any type of home can have high levels of radon and those levels can be fixed. That can be done by hiring a certified mitigation company. There is a list of those companies located on our website, fcs.uga.edu/radon.

National Healthy Homes Month would be a great time to test your home for radon. Radon in air kits are available for purchase on our website. You may also want to consider testing well water for levels of radon if you find elevated levels in the air. Homeowners on city or county water do not have to test for radon in water.

If you are interested in learning more about radon or attending a radon education program, please contact me at 770-535-8293 or boothc@uga.edu.

Carin Booth is the Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension in Hall County. She can be reached at 770-535-8293 or by email at boothc@uga.edu.

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