The Maine Indoor Air Quality Council donated a radon treatment system to a low-income homeowner in Benton on Monday, using money raised from its annual Indoor Insanity 5k fundraising event last January.

The home at 72 Pines Road, owned by Dorothy LaVoie, is the first by the council using proceeds from its annual road race.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and the No. 1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, the council said in a press release about the installation.

“Because of our granite bedrock, Maine homes have a high risk of elevated radon levels indoors,” the release said, adding that one-third of Maine’s homes are likely to have elevated radon levels. “It’s easy to test for radon, and treatment systems are both available and effective,” the council said, but added that few financial resources are available to install systems for those with limited financial means.

“Testing your home for radon is absolutely essential in Maine, and it’s both easy and inexpensive,” said Lance Boucher, director of Public Policy at the American Lung Association of the Northeast, in the press release. “Equally essential is installing a treatment system, called a mitigation system, if radon levels are too high.” Those systems cost about $1,500 for a single-family home with a concrete slab, the release said.

Radon treatment systems like the one installed at LaVoie’s home “can be extremely effective at reducing airborne radon to acceptable levels.”

The system includes a pipe that is sunk through the basement floor and then run up above the roof, where a small fan near the top of the pipe sucks the radon up and out of the home, the release said.

While many can easily support the cost of the radon test itself, coming up with the money to install the treatment system needed to correct a radon problem is more of a challenge.

“There are few resources anywhere in the country to help low-income homeowners with the costs to install radon treatment systems,” says Christine G. Crocker, executive director of the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council. “We are so pleased that our small organization, through our Indoor Insanity 5k initiative, is helping to prevent lung cancer in Maine — even if it’s only one house at a time.”

The Maine Indoor Air Quality Council develops “practical strategies to design, build, operate and maintain” homes, schools and other buildings and also advocates for better indoor environments with communications, education and policy. The next Indoor Insanity 5k is Jan. 10 at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.


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