Black Hawk County Public Health Department heightens radon testing

Black Hawk County Public Health leaders say people aren't taking the dangers of radon seriously.
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 6:05 AM CST
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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG) - The Black Hawk County Department of Public Health heightened its radon testing as part of Radon Awareness Month.

Public health workers will be selling take-home kits throughout the month. It was something Bill Shimek of Waterloo knows all too well.

“One of my friends died of cancer, and when they tested his home, they found 28 pCi,” he said.

The EPA says 71 percent of Iowa homes test higher than the agency’s 4 pCi action level. Radon is a natural gas that seeps through the ground and can get through cracks in houses.

“All of Iowa is at high risk for radon,” said Alex Writz, the Healthy Home Coordinator with the Black Hawk County Department of Public Health. “It’s the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.”

Writz said people should be testing every few years, and higher levels can be brought down by installing a mitigation system that can prevent radon from getting into the home. Knowing a home’s radon level was something Shimek said he was glad he did to keep himself and his family safe.

“When my friends’ levels came back at 28, that should wake anyone up, really,” said Shimek.

The test kits are available at local health departments. In Black Hawk County, they cost $10 each. To test, you open the cardboard package, collect air from your home for three days, and mailed in for testing.