January Is National Radon Month: Is Your Home Safe?

The U.S. EPA had declared January as the National Radon Action Month, in an attempt to raise awareness about the dangers of radon gas in homes and businesses.  The agency is trying to promote awareness about the subject by educating citizens and encouraging them to take action to ensure the safety of their homes.  Radon gas is colorless and odorless, and has been found to be a leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.  Radon gas can seep into a home from underground and accumulate in high levels, subjecting the individual to exposure levels that can cause lung cancer.  It is estimated that around 21,000 people die from radon related lung cancer each year in the United States.  EPA has also estimated that over exposure to radon gas occurs in almost one out of every fifteen homes in the U.S.

Radon is a natural, radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water.  It can enter homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings such as holes or pipes.  Additionally, radon gas is not specific to one region of the country, it can be found in every state.  For these reasons, EPA has outlined a few simple steps homeowners can take to ensure their families are safe from radon gas exposure.  The first step includes testing your home, even those without a basement, for radon gas.  This can be done by acquiring an easy-to-use radon test kit that can be found at many home improvement or hardware stores.  Radon test kits can also be found on many websites.  An alternative to the do-it-yourself approach is to simply hire a professional who specializes in indoor air quality.  The EPA has recommended that radon levels above 4 Picocuries per Liter (pCi/L) be addressed immediately.  Many states maintain a radon contact list that provides names of professionals for homeowners to contact if a fix is required.

As part of EPA’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the seriousness of radon gas exposure, the Federal Radon Action Plan was announced at the National Healthy Homes Conference in June 2011.  Because of the seriousness of radon overexposure, numerous government agencies including EPA, General Services Administration and the Departments of Agriculture; Defense; Energy; Health and Human Services; Housing and Urban Development; Interior; and Veterans Affairs have teamed up to focus their efforts on radon reduction and mitigation in homes, schools and daycare facilities, as well as radon-resistant new construction.  More information on all radon related issues can be found at the EPA’s radon website.

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