What do you think the cost is of saving your lungs? And what would you need to save them from? Many homes in Alaska are affected by the radioactive gas, radon, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
With tobacco smoking, the leading cause of lung cancer, it takes money to subject your lung’s tissue lining to a carcinogen. With the price of a pack of cigarettes on the road system, it would not be odd for someone who smokes a pack a day to spend over $3,500 a year.
Radon, which is found in the earth’s rock and soil, enters your home at no charge, but also unknowingly as it is odorless, tasteless and invisible. It is released by uranium undergoing radioactive decay.
How do you know if your home has radon? Do-it-yourself home kits are available online or at local hardware/building supply stores. The two- or three- day short-term test can run anywhere from $9 to $40. Be sure to read the package before purchase as there may be an additional postage required to send it to the lab, which may charge you another $25 or so to issue you the results.
You can have a professional come in and give you a much more accurate metered test that may show you hour by hour what the concentration levels were. This test will run a couple hundred dollars typically as the equipment is expensive. This typically involves a calibrated box unit, which will collect the sample through a hose and provide graphing and numbers throughout the period sampled for a technician to interpret.
The UAF Cooperative Extension Service sells radon test kits year-round — $30 for the short-term version and then $25 for a long-term test that measures months to a year. With these tests you get a single, overall average.
If you are over the Environmental Protection Agency’s suggested limit of 4 picocuries of radon gas concentration in a liter of air, then you will want to test again. If the second time you are above this level, you are going to have to invest some sweat equity and a little bit of money in materials. Possibly you will need to buy a $25 tube of cement plug material and a large caulking gun to seal all cracks in your cement slab floor or purchase a $40 roll of clear 6 mm plastic sheeting to be used as a sealed ground cover, along with $30 a roll red vapor barrier tape.
If worse comes to worse, you may end up paying for a sub-slab pressurization system, which involves a plastic pipe chimney and small fall being installed and hooked up to your breaker box. Across the country this installation from professionals may cost $900 to $1,500. In Alaska on the road system, it may be more like $4,000.
Yet all of these costs don’t even come near to the bills from an oncologist, lab tests, chemotherapy, possible surgery, etc., that accompany lung cancer. Take radon seriously.
For more information, contact me at 907-474-6366.
If you have any questions on any of these ideas, feel free to contact Art Nash at (907)474-6366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.