Radon dangers outlined at Carpentersville day care center presentation
By Erin Sauder For Sun-Times Media February 11, 2014 4:28PM
Lisa Roesner of Community Contacts, Inc., hands out information on radon to parents Tuesday at the Two Rivers Head Start Child Care Center in Carpentersville. | Erin Sauder for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 12, 2014 2:32AM
CARPENTERSVILLE — Some local parents Tuesday got a wake-up call on the dangers of radon gas, learning it is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States but also the No. 1 cause of death in the home.
“It’s the leading home safety risk compared to falls, choking and drowning,” Kasey Lansford of the Kane County Health Department told parents of students in the Two Rivers Head Start Child Care Center during the radon awareness presentation.
A new state law that went into effect this year requires child care centers to publicly post the results of radon tests of their facilities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that if a home or building tests at 4 picocuries per liter of air (4 pCi/L) of radon or higher, action should be taken to reduce the level. The Carpentersville facility tested below the 4 pCi/L level, according to Tom Schlueter, spokesman for the Kane County Health Department.
Illinois began requiring in 2013 that licensed day care centers and day care homes test their facilities for the radioactive gas.
Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that comes from the radioactive decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil, according to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. It can enter homes and buildings through small cracks in the foundation, sump pumps, or soil in crawlspaces. It is estimated that nearly 1,200 Illinois residents die from radon-related lung cancer each year.
January is National Radon Action Month, but the presentation was postponed to February because of the severe cold weather.
During Tuesday’s event, children in the four child care center classrooms worked on a coloring sheet about radon awareness while parents gathered for the radon education session.
Radon is a major issue in Kane County, with almost half of the 10,000 homes and buildings tested between 2003 and 2011 showing high levels of the radioactive gas, according to the IEMA.
The parents who attended the presentation — about 15 — received a free radon testing kit, courtesy of Community Contacts Inc., a nonprofit human service organization serving Kane and DeKalb counties. The agency is dedicated to helping low- and moderate-income families attain and maintain safe and affordable housing.
For those concerned about radon in their homes, test kits can be purchased from the Kane County Health Department or local hardware stores. Apartment dwellers also can test and share the results with their landlords.
Schlueter was pleased at the number of parents who showed up to Tuesday’s event.
“And I think Head Start was just phenomenal in their accommodating us to provide that information to their clients,” he said.
For homes that do test for high levels of radon, reduction systems can reduce them. And while the process can be expensive — about $1,000 — some people are eligible for help through Community Contacts Inc.
More information about radon is available online at www.kanehealth.com/healthy_places.htm.