Radon (Rn) is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. You can't see radon. You can't smell it or taste it. But, it may be a problem in your home. Radon is estimated to be the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and is estimated to cause over 20,000 deaths each year.
Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. As you breathe, the radon molecule proceeds through it's half-life cycle releasing and alpha and beta particles. These particles damage the lung tissue over time and lead to cancer. Radon can be found all over the U.S. and is very prevalent up and down the front range of Colorado. Radon can get into any type of building and build up to high levels, but you and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home. That is where you spend most of your time.
January is National Radon Action Month. You should test your home for radon. Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. The EPA and Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. Testing is inexpensive and easy. The most common test is a short term test lasting a minimum of 48 hours. You can purchase a home test kit at many of the local retailers or have your home tested for radon by a qualified radon service provider. The short term test can be canisters of activated charcoal that is opened and exposed to the indoor air for a given period of time and then mailed to a lab to calibrate the results. Some professional radon testers in the area use radon monitors. These monitors can generate the results as soon as the test is finished. Most home inspectors in our area are qualified to test for radon in the home.
The EPA recommends that any dwelling which tests at or above 4.0pCi/l (pica curies per liter) be mitigated for radon. If a high level of radon is found in your home there are many different corrective measures that can be done to minimize the radon level. Depending on the type of house you have, professional mitigation of radon can cost from around $800.00 to $2000.00. The state radon office or local public health department will have a list of qualified radon mitigation companies.
Millions of Americans have the peace of mind that comes with knowing if their home is contaminated by radon. Don't worry about radon, get your home tested. For more information visit the EPA's radon website at www.epa.gov/radon
Source information from the Environmental Protection Agency and National Safety Council Environmental Health Center