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New state app pinpoints radon risk

OLYMPIA - Washington residents now have a new online map to check and see if their neighborhood has a geological risk for the cancer-causing gas, radon, using a new state app.

The new app is offered by the state Department of Health’s Washington Tracking Network.

Some areas of the state, such as Spokane and Clark counties, are well-known for having higher levels of radon, but the new online map shows there are some areas around Puget Sound such as Pierce and King counties that might come as a surprise.

According to the network’s map, Yakima County generally has a moderate radon risk.

In areas with historically higher radon levels, testing happens routinely, giving homeowners more information about those areas.

But many areas of the state at risk for radon exposure haven’t been as thoroughly tested, or tested at all. More testing would provide a better understanding of the scope of radon risks throughout the state.

Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas created when uranium in rocks decays. When this gas enters a building from the ground or through construction materials or well water, it becomes trapped and builds up.

It’s important to know how much radon you and your family are exposed to since long-term exposure to radon is known to cause lung cancer.

The risk of lung cancer to smokers who are also exposed to elevated radon levels increases even more.

Radon testing is the only way to know if you’re being exposed. Every home should be tested even if it’s located in a low-risk area. If high levels of radon are found, fixing it is usually simple and inexpensive. Home-testing kits are available at most hardware stores and certified radon professionals are available to help homeowners who have radon levels above safety levels.

Local radon and smoking information is available on the Washington Tracking Network’s website, which can be accessed by going to www.doh.wa.gov.

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