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State encouraging residents to test radon levels in homes; free kits available in some areas

OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY - A map from the Oregon Health Authority shows areas of increased radon risk. Scappoose, Clatskanie and Columbia City are three of the 20 cities in Oregon that have a high risk of elevated radon, according to Oregon Health Authority data.

The state is encouraging Oregonians to test for radon in their own homes.

"The best time to test is during the heating season, when the windows and doors are closed up tight," a Jan. 30 OHA press release states.

The state is now offering free radon test kits to residents who live in areas where little test data is available.

Residents who live in ZIP codes where the state has fewer than 20 test results can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out how to receive a free test kit.

Locally, those areas include Deer Island and Vernonia.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends mitigation efforts for homes if radon levels are 4 pCi/L (picocurries per liter) or higher. However, the EPA also recommends considering radon mitigation if levels are above 2 pCi/L, because there is no known safe level of exposure to radon.

The average result in Clatskanie is 4.3 pCi/L, though the state only has test results for 28 locations in the area. Scappoose also had an average of 4.3 pCi/L. In Columbia City, the average result was 5.9 pCi/L.

Radon occurs naturally in rock, soil and water in varying amounts. When radon underneath a home enters the building, it becomes a health risk. Radon can enter the home through cracks and holes in the foundation.

"Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements," an EPA webpage warned.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. Radon is responsible for roughly 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year, according to the EPA.


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