Local radon levels relatively low
Nonetheless, levels are high enough in McMinnville, Newberg, Dundee and Gaston to pose “moderate” risk, according to the study.
Radon is a radioactive gas created as a byproduct of the breakdown of uranium in rocks, soil and water. It can move through the soil and be drawn into buildings via pressure differentials. Because it is odorless, tasteless and colorless, special testing is required for detection.
According to the Surgeon General’s office, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking, and the leading cause in non-smokers.
The Oregon Health Authority says indoor levels are affected by a wide range of factors, including weather, season, geology and methods employed in construction, heating, ventilation and air conditioning. It recommends homes be tested, as results can vary widely, even in areas in close proximity.
The OHA advises homeowners run a short-term test, monitoring levels from two to 90 days, and follow up with a longer-term test if levels measure above 4 picocuries per liter. Test kits can be purchased through www.oregon.gov/HealthyEnvironments.
Information also is available through the department’s Radon Information Line, accessed at 971-673-0440.