Each year, more than 400 Iowan lives are lost due to radon-induced lung cancer. Putting this in perspective, this is approximately the same number of lives lost in traffic accidents in Iowa each year. Taking this a step further, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in smokers and the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

In fact, the average indoor radon level in Iowa is more than six times the national average. Approximately 7 out of 10 homes in Iowa have dangerously elevated levels of radon, yet many Iowans remain unfamiliar with radon and its associated health risks.

So what exactly is radon gas? Radon gas is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas produced from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil. Radon gas enters our homes and buildings through cracks in our foundations, construction joints, sump pits, and other fissures. Our homes and buildings, if not properly ventilated, can allow a build-up of this gas, resulting in higher than recommended radon exposure levels. Over time, radon gas can damage our lungs, affecting our overall lung health and can even lead to lung cancer.

January is the nationally recognized Radon Awareness Month. During this month, the Black Hawk County Health Department is increasing its efforts to educate the public about radon, its potential hazards, and highlight radon control work happening in Black Hawk County communities. The Health Department and numerous community partners are collaborating to bring multiple educational events to our local communities. Short-term, do-it-yourself test kits are available for $10 at these events. Test kits are also available at the Black Hawk County Health Department: the Pinecrest Building, 1407 Independence Ave. 5th Floor in Waterloo, as is information regarding the risks of radon in your home. Kits can also be purchased online or at your local hardware store.

Upcoming Educational Radon Events in Black Hawk County

Wed. Jan. 9, 3-5 PM – Waterloo Public Library
Tues. Jan. 15, 10 AM-1 PM – Cedar Falls Public Library
Tue. Jan. 22, 4-6 PM – Cedar Valley SportsPlex in Waterloo
Wed. Jan. 23, 11 AM-1 PM – Cedar Falls Recreation Center
Thu. Jan. 24, 3-5 PM – Hy-Vee on Logan Ave., Waterloo
Mon. Jan. 28, 4:30-6:30 PM – YMCA “Let’s Get Physical” in Waterloo