Iowa has highest average Radon levels in the US

Iowa has highest average Radon levels in the US
Published: Sep. 23, 2023 at 11:16 AM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Cancer Consortium estimates 400 Iowans die each year of lung cancer caused by Radon exposure. That’s more than the number of people who die in car accidents. Iowa has the highest average radon level of any other state. The Iowa Department of Public Health says the average indoor Radon concentration in Iowa is more than six times the national average.

Dr. Neil Horning with the MercyOne Lung Cancer Clinic says radon is particularly dangerous because it has no smell or color. “The important thing about radon is that we don’t know that we’re being exposed to it, and it can increase the risk of lung cancer particularly in people who are smoking cigarettes,” Horning said.

Dr. Horning says any home can have high levels of radon, but there’s a higher risk for people with basements. “It’s important particularly for people who, you know, live in basements. Especially if they’re spending time and have a finished basement, spending a lot of time in their basement.,” Horning said.

Dan Weber with testing and mitigation firm Central Iowa Radon says seventy percent of Iowa homes have radon levels over what the EPA considers safe. Weber recommends homeowners have their homes tested every two years. “It’s anywhere from you know, 50 to 100 dollars,” Weber said.

There’s no requirement in Iowa when selling your home to test for Radon.

“The only requirement currently is that if you have ever had your home tested, you are required to disclose it if you are above the EPA threshold of 4.0,” Weber said.

Weber says homeowners who have high levels should consider mitigation. “You’re generally looking between about $1150 and $1300 dollars. So, over the life of a home, it’s it’s not the you know, it’s not that expensive for what it is,” Weber said.

Weber says test kits sold at hardware stores are effective, but they’re required to be mailed to a lab. Any shipping delays could mean the lab can’t get any data from the tests.