A state health official says new homes built in much of northeast Nebraska should have passive radon vents included in the construction.
Mark Versch, an environmental health specialist at the Nebraska Division of Public Health, says the highest radon levels detected in the state are in Cedar County. Larger communities in that county include: Hartington, Laurel, Randolph and Coleridge.
Versch says, “Data in our database shows some of those ZIP codes from some of those communities up there are really quite elevated and they’ve established a concern up there.”
Nationally, seven-to-eight percent of homes have high levels of radon. In Cedar County, 75-percent of homes tested have high levels.
The county commission is looking at providing information to builders about passive radon vents and possible changes to zoning rules. Versch says that’s a good idea.
He says, “You can put in a passive soil gas ventilation system, a simple soil gas ventilation pipe, that will convey air from below the basement floor up through the attic and out the top of the house.”
Versch says the colorless, odorless radon gas, which is emitted from rocks and soil buried underground, is a serious health hazard.
“Radon is similar to cigarette smoking in that it is a factor which increases your risk of developing lung cancer,” he says.
Radon test kits are available for five-dollars for shipping and handling from the Nebraska Division of Public Health. http://dhhs.ne.gov/radon/TestKits.htm
Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton