How Much Radon is In Your Home?

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Focus on Radon Chemical Element from the Mendeleev Periodic Table

January is National Radon Action Month. Protect your home and your family from this invisible health risk.

Knowing how much radon is in your home could save your life. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. If you smoke and live in a home with high radon levels, you increase your risk of developing lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General’s office estimate radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S.

What is radon?

Radon is a gas that forms naturally when radioactive metals – like uranium, thorium, or radium – break down in rocks, soil, and groundwater. Radon is invisible; you can’t see, smell, or taste it. When you breathe in radon, radioactive particles from radon gas can get trapped in your lungs. Over time, these radioactive particles increase the risk of lung cancer. It may take years before health problems appear.

Where does radon come from?

Radon comes naturally from the earth, and people are always exposed to it. Radon in air can come through cracks and gaps in buildings and homes. Some homes have higher levels of radon than others. Having your home tested is the only effective way to determine whether you and your family are exposed to high levels of radon.

How do I test for radon?

Testing is inexpensive and easy, and should only take a few minutes of your time. It requires opening a package, placing a small measuring device in a room, and then leaving it there for the desired period (which may be a few days, or as many as 90 days or more). The longer the testing period, the more relevant the results are to your home and lifestyle.Protect your family from radon

To test for radon:

  • Purchase a radon test kit.
  • Test your home or office.
  • Send the kit to appropriate sources to determine radon level.
  • Fix your home if radon levels are high.

How can I reduce my exposure to radon?

To reduce high radon levels in your home and protect yourself from an increased risk of lung cancer, you can take action.

  • Stop smoking and discourage smoking in your home.
  • Increase air flow in your house by opening windows and using fans and vents to circulate air. Natural ventilation in any type of house is only a temporary strategy to reduce radon.
  • Seal cracks in floors and walls with plaster, caulk, or other materials designed for this purpose. Contact your state radon office or call the National Radon Hotline at 1-800-SOS-RADON for a list of qualified contractors in your area and for information on how to fix radon problems yourself. Always test again after finishing to make sure you’ve fixed your radon problem.
  • Ask about radon-resistant construction techniques if you’re buying a new home. It’s almost always cheaper and easier to build these features into new homes than to add them later.

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Page last reviewed: January 23, 2017
Page last updated: January 23, 2017