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U.S. SURGEON GENERAL HEALTH ADVISORY - "Indoor radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to all families all over the country. It's important to know this threat is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a test and fixed through well established venting techniques." - January 2005 posting
Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas.
You can't see radon. And you can't smell it or taste it. But it may be a problem in your home.
Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths each year. That's because when you breathe air containing radon, you can get lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.
Radon can be found all over the U.S.
Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon can be found all over the U.S. It can get into any type of building — homes, offices, and schools — and result in a high indoor radon level. But you and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home, where you spend most of your time.
You can fix a radon problem.
Radon reduction systems work and they are not too costly. Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99%. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.
How Does Radon Get Into Your Home?
Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems. In a small number of homes, the building materials can give off radon, too. However, building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves.
Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. While radon problems may be more common in some areas, any home may have a problem. The only way to know about your home is to test.
How to Test Your Home
You can't see radon, but it's not hard to find out if you have a radon problem in your home. All you need to do is test for radon. Testing is easy. Your inspector from Second Look Inspection Services will place a state of the art Sun Nuclear radon monitor at the home. EPA guidelines state the minimum amount of time the test is performed is 48 hours (it may stay longer). The radon monitor will take an air sample each hour it is at the home.
You will need to close your windows and outside doors and keep them closed as much as possible during the test. Heating and air-conditioning system fans that re-circulate air may be operated. Do not operate fans or other machines which bring in air from outside. Fans that are part of a radon-reduction system or small exhaust fans operating only for short periods of time may run during the test. Be sure to close your windows and outside doors at least 12 hours before beginning the test, too.
What Do Your Radon Test Results Mean?
Any radon exposure has some risk of causing lung cancer. The lower the radon level in your home, the lower your family's risk of lung cancer. The amount of radon in the air is measured in pCi/L.
EPA recommends fixing your home if the results show radon levels of 4 pCi/L or higher. With today's technology, radon levels in most homes can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below. All radon tests should be taken for a minimum of 48 hours.
What to Look for in a Radon Reduction System
In selecting a radon reduction method for your home, you and your contractor should consider several things, including: how high your initial radon level is, the costs of installation and system operation, your home size, and your foundation type.
*Some information supplied through EPA publication: Consumer’s Guide To Radon Reduction