Radon and Daycares: Do you know the risks?

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TENNESSEE VALLEY (WHNT) - Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and the leading cause among nonsmokers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Unfortunately, northern Alabama is the considered a high risk area, and health experts urge consumers to test their homes.

But what about daycares? Kids can spend up to 40 hours per week there and in some cases, it’s their home away from home.  Would your child's daycare pass a radon test?

Unfortunately, Alabama is non-regulated state when it comes to radon testing.  So childcare facilities and schools are not required to test.

Alabama State Radon Coordinator Patricia Smith says because of that, parent's have to ask if their daycare's been tested.  "It is a serious health issue, said Smith, because when we breathe radon over a period of time, it causes lung cancer."

Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas.  This delayed product comes from a breakdown of chemical in soil, rocks and water.

And believe it or not, both old and new homes can have serious radon issues.

Smith says radon is a particular concern in North Alabama where 15 counties are located in Radon Zone 1 and are considered to have the highest potential for elevated radon levels.

Right now Colbert County stands at number 1 in the state, with Madison County at number 2.

To check out your counties radon risk, click here.

Several states nationwide have passed laws requiring childcare facilities to test for the radioactive gas.  WHNT News 19 is reaching out to out lawmakers to see if they will jump on board.

In the meantime, Smith says testing is easy and cheap.

Radon test kits can be purchased for $7.00 at Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, Madison and Jackson Alabama Cooperative Extension County Offices.

Testing only takes 3 days and the kit includes instructions, a data sheet, paid return box and the laboratory result report.

Mitigating the issue can be costly, ranging from $500 to $2,500.

You can also call Patricia Smith directly with radon questions, at (256) 766-6223 or at (256) 710-7702.

Additionally, If childcare facilities or daycares want to learn more about radon and how to be eco-healthy, they can email info@ecohealthychildcare.org.

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