If you have recently bought or sold a house, you have probably heard of radon. This invisible, odorless and tasteless gas comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, and it rises through the ground and into the air. The air dissipates it enough that it is not harmful. But it also can seep into your home through cracks or holes in the foundation, where it becomes trapped and can become concentrated to unhealthy levels. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, responsible for more than 20,000 deaths a year.
Luckily, testing for excessive amounts of radon and alleviating the problem in your home is a simple process. You can purchase low-cost “do it yourself” tests or hire a qualified tester. If levels in your home are found to be high, a radon mitigation system can be installed, which is simply a vent pipe system and fan that pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it outside.
Radon levels can vary tremendously from home to home, and even in the same home from season to season. The EPA estimates that 1 in 15 homes have undetected high levels of radon. So if your home hasn’t been tested, it is probably a good idea to do so and make sure you are protected from this dangerous gas. Visit the EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/radon for a variety of publications and resources about radon.
Fact: Radon is heavy and collects in low areas. If you spend a lot of time in your basement, the EPA recommends you test your home for radon.