This time of year might feel too late for making New Year's resolutions, or too early for spring cleaning, but it's just the right time for taking an important step to protect the health your family: testing your home for radon, the second-leading cause of lung cancer.
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of natural uranium deposits in soil. Elevated radon levels have been found in homes all across the nation, in every state. Radon can seep in through your home's foundation and, without sufficient ventilation, build up to unsafe levels and increase your family's risk of developing lung cancer.
EPA estimates this is happening in one of every 15 U.S. homes. In some areas, one out of every two homes has high radon levels. The only way to know if a home has an elevated radon level is to test for it.
The winter is a great time to test your home. Typically, windows and doors are kept closed more than other times of the year. Without much outside ventilation, test results will be closer to your home's maximum levels - giving you a better idea of whether you and your family are at elevated risk from the danger of radon.
Based on the findings of the National Academy of Sciences, EPA estimates that about 21,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer each year. This makes radon the second-leading cause of lung cancer in our nation and the number-one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. Testing is the first step in protecting yourself and your family. Do-it-yourself kits are available online and at most major hardware stores. You can also contact the Texas radon office at (512) 834-6787 for more information, or call the national radon hotline at 1-800-SOS-Radon. Certified radon professionals can also perform accurate and reliable radon tests.
If you find high levels in your home, fixing the problem is straightforward and costs about as much as most common home repairs. With proven techniques and time-tested, durable materials, most radon problems can be quickly fixed.
Taking action to test and fix high levels of radon gas is a strong investment for your family's health and for your home. A home that has a system that reduces radon levels to acceptable levels can be a positive selling point when you put a house on the market. In many areas, disclosure of radon levels is a required part of real estate transactions. If you are house hunting, be sure to ask if the home has been tested for radon, whether or not it is required in your area. Also, if you are looking to build a new home, there are now effective and healthier radon-resistant construction techniques that home buyers can discuss with builders to reduce this health hazard.
Radon is a problem you can do something about. This winter, resolve to test, fix, and save a life.
National Academy of Sciences