What is Radon?

Is This Dangerous Substance Lurking in Your Home?

Radon is a colorless, tasteless and odorless substance that emits alpha radiation, a dangerous chemical that is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. behind cigarette smoking. In fact, Radon is estimated to cause some 20,000 lung cancer deaths every year, according to the Surgeon General’s office. Many homes have radon levels that exceed standards set by the U.S. EPA, but many homeowners don’t know it.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is a result of the breakdown of uranium. It is generally found in soil and rocks and occasionally in well water. Most people are exposed to radon by breathing it in their homes, workplaces, or other buildings. Radon danger is especially high in underground caves, mines, tunnels, etc. Dangerous Radon levels have been detected in every U.S. state, and some 8 million homes – or 1 in every 5 – have high levels. Children seem to be at higher risk than adults for health problems related to the substance.

There is only one sure way to know if there is Radon present in your home, and that is to test it. Unfortunately, there are no symptoms of exposure to Radon and many people are unaware that they are affected until months or even years have passed.

Radon detection kits are available in many stores and online. Home inspectors and certified contractors can also check your home for this dangerous substance. Kits can be short-term (a few days) or long term (several months) and will provide varying amounts of accuracy. The EPA recommends testing every floor below the third floor of a home or building.

The good news is that the problem can be fixed. Levels can be lowered by sealing wall and floor cracks and through more complex steps such as adding pipes and fans below the slab of your home.

For more information, visit the EPA’s site at https://www.epa.gov/radon

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