Tuesday, January 26, 2010

HOME & HEALTH: Simple Radon Test Can Protect Your Health

What is odorless, colorless and could be a serious health problem that may be right under your nose? The answer is radon, a naturally occurring gas that could be seeping into your home right now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says.

Although testing for radon is easy and inexpensive, only one in five homeowners has actually tested his or her home for radon. That figure is too low given that, each year, over 20,000 people die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon. It is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths in non-smokers, EPA officials say.

January is National Radon Action Month, so the EPA and the Surgeon General are urging people to protect their health by testing their homes. If a high radon level is detected in your home, you can take steps to fix it, and protect yourself and your family. 

Nearly 80% of American homes have not been tested for radon, perhaps because you can’t see, smell, or taste it. Yet, it may be the most potent carcinogen in your home.

In fact, radon can build to unhealthy levels, especially during colder months when windows and doors are kept closed. The invisible radioactive gas can seep into your home from underground, and can reach harmful levels if trapped indoors.

For about $25, you can purchase a radon testing kit from their local hardware or home improvement store. The kits include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for sending the test canister to an authorized laboratory for analysis. Results are generally sent back to the homeowner within two weeks. If a problem is identified, contact your state radon office for advice on how to fix it. Most solutions are simple and relatively inexpensive, EPA officials say.

Source: U.S. EPA January 14, 2010

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