Safety Alert: January Is National Radon Action Month
Do you know the dangers of radon? While it has no color or odor, this gas is definitely still something to be concerned about. Fortunately, January is National Radon Action Month. There is plenty of information available to help homeowners keep themselves and their children safe.
What is Radon?
To give an example, most people realize that the rays of the sun actually contain a natural radiation. Unfortunately, not everything natural is good for us! The rays from the burning hot sun can easily damage a person’s skin when they are overexposed to them.
Similarly, radon offers a different form of radiation that can be harmful in high doses. You see, radon is a naturally occurring gas that results from the radioactive breakdown of uranium in the ground. Though it is natural, radon can seep into our homes in the form of this harmful gas.
While there are preventative measures that can be taken to reduce our exposure to radon, and a known solution to fix this problem, this gas still causes more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. A main goal for National Radon Action Month is prompting awareness of this invisible menace.
Exposure to Radon
There are two main ways you can be exposed to radon: through drinking water or indoor air. Let’s take a look at each of these sources of radon exposure to see how we can prevent our families from being affected by it.
Radon in Indoor Air
Most of the radon in indoor air comes from soil underneath the home. As uranium breaks down, radon gas forms and then seeps into the house. Radon from soil can get into any type of building, including homes, offices and schools, and build up to high levels in the air inside the building.
Just as the radon gas can get trapped inside your house, it can get trapped in your lungs if you breathe it in. This can damage lung tissue and eventually cause lung cancer.
Radon in Drinking Water
Just as radon can make its way through the foundation of your home, it can seep into your water supply if you have an underground water source like a well. When this is the case, some radon stays in the water, while some can escape into the air and cause the problems described above.
Testing for Radon in Your Home
To recognize National Radon Action Month, homeowners are urged to test their homes and drinking water. Unfortunately, testing for radon is not as simple as installing a carbon monoxide alarm. It requires a bit more work. Of course, as we’ve explained, it can be just as important.
When checking for radon in your air, there are two types of tests you can administer:
- A short-term test usually takes between 2 and 90 days.
- A long-term radon test takes more than 90 days.
First, you should test for radon at the lowest part of your home, such as the basement. That said, it can be tough to get an accurate reading in damp areas. Both of these test varieties will give you a “level” score. Since you’re hoping not to find any radon gas, the ideal radon level is zero. However, if your home has a radon level of four or higher, it’s time to take immediate action.
These radon test kits are sold in most hardware stores. Additionally, you can order a test kit over the phone by calling the National Radon Hotline at 1-800-SOS-RADON (1-800-767-7236). Finally, you can choose to have a professional test your home.
If you’re worried about radon in your water or air, call the Radon Hotline (1-866-730-GREEN). This hotline can direct you to your state radon office to learn about local programs, actions, or events such as National Radon Action Month.