Healthy Homes

Study points to problems with homes in Eastern Iowa

Wed, 01/18/2012 - 11:11

More than one-third of homes tested in Linn County, and many others in Eastern Iowa, have radon levels that warrant mitigation, according to a new study.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that the naturally occurring radioactive gas, which stems from the breakdown of uranium in the soil, enters homes through cracks in the foundation, floors, heating systems, sump pits and walls.

The entrance of harmful toxins and contaminants into a residence through a conventional heating system is a problem that many homeowners have to deal with. Although radon is one of the most dangerous of these, other allergens can be generated and stored in radiators, heating ducts and air vents that are used in these older heaters.

A radiant heating system can be installed as a way to provide comfortable heat, without the need for contaminant-producing products like radiators and heating ducts. The technology is installed as part of a subfloor, eliminating the need for exterior materials that may pollute a home.

Radon that enters a home through cracks and holes is something that families need to worry about.

"Radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer for non-smokers," Ruby Perin, Healthy Homes branch manager for Linn County Public Health, told the Gazette.

The Linn County Public Health board analyzed results of more than 400,000 test kids used in 14 Eastern Iowa counties from 1990 to 2011. All but one country showed averages above the Environmental Protection Agency's "action level." The news source reported that these numbers were troubling, and families in the area needed to take action to prevent a worsening of the problem.

"Testing twice is always best, especially if it comes in high or low," Perin said of a possible second test for the region.