Monongalia County Health Department to test for dangerous radon gas at childcare centers

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Monongalia County Health Department (MCHD) has received $18,600 from the Environmental Protection Agency to test for the deadly gas radon in childcare centers.

Radon is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas that causes lung cancer in the long term and is estimated to kill 21,000 Americans every year. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that all homes in the country get tested for radon. MCHD plans on using the money to test around 40 centers in Monongalia County and six in Preston County in order to assess and mitigate the potential risk children are facing.

Joseph Lawson, a registered sanitarian at MCHD, who will be doing testing said radon gas seeps from the ground and up through the base of a home or business.

“Hopefully, we don’t find anything,” Lawson said. “Here in Monongalia County, we’re considered a red zone so we have the highest attainable level by the EPA. “So from our results with homes, basically, one out of every five homes are running high for radon exposure.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, radon is the second-highest cause of lung cancer in the US, after tobacco smoke. Those who want to test homes or businesses, as is recommended, Lawson said home tests can be bought from Lowes or contact certified testers, like him, at MCHD.

He said radon is measured in picocuries per liter and that just one is equivalent to smoking two to three cigarettes a day. At level four or higher, he said, the situation must be mitigated.

“If they have a high level, basically, they have to go through a mitigation process the mitigation process costs roughly around $1,500 to complete it’ll really reduce the amount of radon in a home,” Lawson said.

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