Monongalia County Health Department offers $85 radon testing in January
Dec. 27, 2023
For Immediate Release
MORGANTOWN, WV (Dec. 27, 2023) — If you reside in Monongalia County or nearby, you live in a radon zone. Nationally, 1 in 15 homes have high levels of radon, a natural gas that seeps up from the rocks in the earth. But in Morgantown, that figure is 1 in 5.
That makes getting your home tested for radon even more important. During the month of January, as part of National Radon Action Month, Monongalia County Health Department’s Environmental Health program will conduct radon testing for $85, down from $125.
“Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer,” said Alexis Davy, a Monongalia County Health Department sanitarian and a radon measurement specialist.
And because Monongalia County tends to have a greater incidence of high radon levels compared to the national average, getting a radon test will let individuals know if they should look into mitigation efforts for their home or business.
So what is radon? It’s a naturally occurring colorless and odorless gas that results from the decay of uranium deep underground. Radon moves up through the bedrock, then into the soil, and then up from the soil into the atmosphere. When radon comes up into the air outside, it’s harmless. When it comes up into your basement and into your house, it can become a problem.
January is a good time to test for radon because houses tend to be more closed up than at other times of the year, Davy noted.
“During a radon test, all windows have to remain closed and a circulation air conditioning system that is pulling air from outside and circulating air inside can’t be running,” Davy said. “In January, those are things you don’t have to worry about.”
Radon testing is done using a device called a continuous radon monitor. The device is set up in the lowest livable space of a home and runs for 48 hours. A monitor would be placed in a finished basement but not an unfinished portion, Davy noted. If the home has a crawl space, the monitor would go in the room above the crawl space. She’s even seen where a home had two separated basements that needed two monitors, which then costs $100 with the January special.
The monitor shuts off on its own and creates a report on the radon levels in the home.
If the reading is 4 picocuries per liter or higher, then the homeowner can have mitigation techniques done, including adding ventilation and/or making the space more radon resistant, that will lower the radon levels in their home. Newer builds often have these features already. The average cost for these measures is $1,500, Davy said.
Not only is radon the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, killing on average 21,000 individuals a year, it’s also the No. 1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. The combination of radon and smoking is especially deadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which designated National Radon Action Month, produces a National Radon Action Plan and updates it periodically. In 2021, the plan set a goal for the nation to find, fix and prevent high indoor radon levels in 8 million buildings by 2025 and prevent 3,500 lung cancer deaths per year.
Also, radon levels can be tricky and your next door neighbors’ reading could mean nothing when it comes to your own home, Davy noted.
Last winter, Davy remembers testing several homes within a block of each other.
“We got a large variety of testing results, even though the homes were within one block,” she said. “You could have a perfect radon test and your neighbor could have twice the level of yours.”
This can be attributed to several factors, including a home’s foundation and age, what the air flow is and the type of soil it’s sitting on. “There are a lot of things that can affect a reading,” she said.
To schedule a radon test, call MCHD Environmental Health at 304-598-5131. You can also find more information at monchd.org/services/radon.