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January 18,  2002



 (SafetyAlerts) - EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today urged Americans to heed January as National Radon Action Month by testing their homes for the second leading cause of lung cancer in the country, indoor radon gas. Approximately one home in 15 across the nation has unacceptably high radon levels; in some areas of the country, as many as one out of two homes has high levels.

"As many as 22,000 people die from lung cancer each year in the United States from exposure to indoor radon," Whitman said. "Yet Americans could help prevent these deaths and protect their families by testing their homes for radon as soon as possible.

"Not only is radon testing a sound investment in the long-term health of your family," Whitman added, " but it could also be a good investment in terms of the resale value of your home. In many areas, radon testing is a required part of real estate transactions."

EPA has designated January as National Radon Action Month. EPA and partner organizations are sponsoring activities around the country to increase awareness of the health risks of radon. Radon levels can soar during the colder months when residents keep windows and doors closed and spend more time indoors. Radon can also be a danger in summer when homes are closed tight for air conditioning purposes.

Radon, a radioactive product of the element radium, is invisible and odorless and occurs naturally in soil, rock, and water across the country. Although relatively harmless when diluted in the open air, radon can pose a serious health threat when concentrated indoors. When inhaled, radon releases small bursts of energy that can damage the DNA in lung tissue over time and lead to lung cancer.

Radon test kits, sold at home improvement and hardware stores, are easy to use and provide accurate readings of home radon levels. EPA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that homes with radon levels of 4 pCi/L (picoCurries per liter of air) or higher pose a danger to inhabitants and should be fixed by an experienced contractor. For help in finding a contractor near you, visit EPA's radon website below and click on "find a qualified radon service professional."

Although some areas of the country have naturally higher radon levels than others, EPA recommends everyone test because isolated radon "hot spots" can occur anywhere. EPA also recommends testing in schools, work places, community centers and other buildings where people spend long periods of time.

For more information about radon testing, call EPA's hotline at 800-SOS-RADON, or contact Kristy Miller of EPA at 202-564-9441 ( or visit:

A Video News Release (VNR) is available to reporters via satellite or Beta SP tape. The VNR contains interviews with EPA Administrator Whitman, Dr. Jonathan Samet of Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, a radon mitigation contractor and homeowners with high radon levels. There will be a national feed of the VNR today, Jan. 17 at 3 p.m. EST. This feed is for TV stations to pull off the satellite. The satellite coordinates are: Telstar 6, Transponder 1 V - 3720 (Polarity V, Frequency 3720) C-Band.

Source: EPA.

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