Another View: January is National Radon Action Month

The American Lung Association recommends that all homes be tested for radon

The winter can be a dangerous time of year for people living with high levels of radon in their homes. This time of year, radon levels can soar as residents keep their windows closed and spend more time indoors.

In an effort to educate and encourage Oregon residents about the importance of lung health, the American Lung Association in Oregon is kicking off Radon Action Month.

Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that naturally occurs in the soil. When levels get too high, it becomes hazardous to our health. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking, and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

“We know from many studies that breathing high levels of radon increases your risk of lung cancer, yet you can’t see, taste or smell radon,’’ said Renée Klein, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific. “Testing is an easy, important way to protect you and your family. If you don’t test, you don’t know.”

Radon and smoking make an even more deadly combination. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high. The EPA estimates that about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. are radon-related, with about 2,900 of these deaths occurring among people who have never smoked.

Lung cancer kills more Americans than any other cancer, claiming more lives than the next four leading cancer killers — breast, prostate, colon and pancreas cancers — combined.

Lung cancer places a significant burden on our society. According to the National Cancer Institute, there were an estimated 228,190 new lung cancer cases and 159,480 lung cancer deaths in the United States in 2013.

The American Lung Association and the Environmental Protection Agency recommend that all homes be tested for radon. Test your home for radon today by purchasing at radon test kit at: radonkit.org. If you are building a new home, ask your builder about radon-resistant construction materials.

The American Lung Association in Oregon also encourages the public to learn more about radon at Radon Forum Northwest to be held Jan. 16 from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., at the Salem Public Library, located at 585 Liberty St. S.E., Salem, OR 97301.

The event is free and is open to the public and will feature informational presentations, a panel discussion and a Q&A series with industry experts. RSVP to Tiffany Belser at 503-718-6141 or tbelser@lungoregon.org.

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The American Lung Association in Oregon is a nonprofit, voluntary public health organization, working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease in Oregon. Its programs focus on the areas of asthma, clean air, tobacco prevention and lung disease.

For more information about the American Lung Association in Oregon or to support the work it does, call 503-924-4094 or visit lung.org/oregon.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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