Friday, December 20, 2019

Maine Indoor Air Quality Council working to fix radon problems in Sebago Lake region this winter

Workers install a radon mitigation system which
involves trapping radon from the basement or
crawl space and piping it outside using
a fan system.
By Lorraine Glowczak

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the number two cause of this deadly disease in smokers nationwide. According to the State of Maine Radiation Control Program, high levels of radon gas occur naturally in Maine soil and water due to the normal decay of radium in the bedrock and can move up into a house from the ground. 

Radon is colorless, odorless, tasteless and gets trapped in buildings, causing one in three Maine homes likely to have a radon problem. That number rises to one in two homes in southwestern Maine—especially the area around Sebago Lake.

Scientists estimate that 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year are related to radon.  “Although the statistics are frightening, there is good news,” says Christine Crocker, executive director of the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council (MIAQC) located in Augusta.  “There are easy solutions available to homeowners that can rectify this major health concern.” is for this reason that the MIAQC has recently reached out to AmeriCorp Organizer, Elissa Kane at St. Joseph’s College who is directing and leading area organizations (Raymond Village Library, Raymond Village Community Church, Age Friendly Raymond) in a Window Dressers event to install window inserts to improve a home’s warmth, reduce CO2 emissions and lower heating costs. This Window Dressers event helps eligible families and individuals living in the greater Sebago Lakes region to include the towns of Raymond, Windham, Standish, Westbrook and more.

The mission of Window Dressers also includes bringing volunteers together to help in their endeavors assisting those in need. MIAQC has asked to share in those volunteer efforts.

“We can be a part of the solution to help people test their homes for radon,” began Crocker. “And if the tests come back with elevated levels of this dangerous gas, we will then install a radon mitigation system – for free- for those who have been identified as financially eligible homeowners receiving the window inserts, also for free.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that all homeowners test their homes for radon in air.  (Homes with private wells should also test their well water.)  The EPA further recommends fixing your home if the results of one long-term test or the average of two short-term tests show radon in air levels are at or above 4.0 picocuries per liter.

Although the costs of installing radon systems can vary depending upon many variables (type and size of home, type of foundation or basement), the average cost to install a radon air mitigation system is approximately $1,500 to $2,000. “We are expecting to test approximately 12 low-income homes in the Windham and Raymond areas this winter,” Crocker said. “Of those tested, it is likely that between four and eight homes will test at or above the EPA action level.  Radon systems can be costly for low income Mainers, and no other resources are available to protect families. That is why we are here.”

But in order to do so, funds need to be raised to help those in need. Fundraising is essential.  “Online registration is now open for the 2020 Indoor Insanity 5K event scheduled for Sunday, January 12, 2020 at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham,” stated Crocker, who is a paid staff member but who volunteers and donates her time to the success of this 5K event. “One hundred percent of the funds raised by the race will be used to install radon gas treatment systems in low income homes – including those right here in Windham, Raymond and Standish. This 5K is for everyone - elite runners who are looking to be timed in preparation for summer races, slow runners, walkers and those who just simply want to have fun exercising indoors during the winter while providing a service at the same time.”

cstlouis@spurwink.orgCrocker explained that free, long-sleeve cotton t-shirts will be available for those whose registrations are received by Saturday, December 21, 2019.

She also provided details of the 5K fundraiser. “Registration and warm-ups open at 7:00 a.m.., with the first heat starting at 8 a.m. The event ends by 11 a.m. and there will be an after-race party scheduled at Sebago Brewing with free food and 5K beers ($3.10 for a draft pour).”

But there is more. For those who are professional contractors wanting to learn more about how to combat radon in the home in new residential or renovation construction, the Council is hosting a four-part comprehensive training series on practical and cost-effective strategies for construction and renovation of healthy energy efficient homes. There will be certification available for the professionals who want to have an advantage and expertise above and beyond other competing contractors.

This four-part series will be held at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish beginning on Friday, January 24, 2020. For more details or to register for this class, visit

To learn more about the window insert event collaboration or to volunteer, contact Elissa Kane at or by phone at 207-893-7783.

For more information and to register for the Indoor Insanity 5K, visit the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council’s website at and click on events.  Also, find and “like” the Indoor Insanity 5K Facebook page for race updates, photos, and more! 

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