Radon and Your Home :: What to Know
As we enter a new year, many of us set out to accomplish new goals, and health is often at the top of the priority list. These resolutions usually center around diet or exercise, while our home health gets overlooked as a factor that can affect our long-term physical health. One critical component of a healthy home environment for you and your family can be achieved by checking your home’s radon levels. According to estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is estimated that 1 in 15 homes have high levels of radon. Luckily, there are ways to test for and remediate radon in your home. Here are some facts:
What is radon?
- Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that forms from the breakdown of uranium in soil, water, and rock.
- It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless and is found all over the United States.
- Radon occurs naturally in the atmosphere in trace amounts – since it disperses rapidly, it is typically not harmful outdoors.
- Most radon exposures occur indoors in homes and other buildings.
- Radon enters through cracks or holes in the foundation or gaps around service pipes, and builds up over time.
- Breathing in radon over time can lead to lung cancer. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, preceded by smoking.
- Both old and new homes of all conditions can have radon.
How do you know if your home has radon?
- Testing is the only way to know if you have high levels of radon in your home.
- Winter is a good time to test as windows and doors are typically kept closed and sealed for extended periods of time.
- You can have your home tested by a professional or do it yourself with an at-home kit.
- Radon test kits are relatively inexpensive and can be found in home improvement stores or through various online retailers such as Lowes or Radonzone.
- Check out the EPA map of radon zones for your state here to know if you live or work in an area with high radon levels.
How can high radon levels be treated?
- Each state provides guidance and resources for radon testing and mitigation. Read more on New York state radon information here: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/radon.htm
- If you plan to build a new home, you can include radon reduction techniques at the time of construction – it is often a more effective and cost-efficient approach to preventing radon in your home as opposed to trying to remedy it later.
- Sealing up cracks in floors and walls and installing ventilation systems can help reduce radon levels. However, you should always test your home again after implementing these measures.
- Anyone who finds that their home has high radon levels are strongly encouraged to contact a professional to help you permanently eliminate radon in your home.
- Call an EPA supported Radon hotline for any questions or concerns:
Purchase radon test kits over the phone.
Get your radon questions answered.
Radon Fix-It Hotline for information on reducing radon levels in your home.
Safe Drinking Water Hotline for information on drinking water, radon in water, testing and treatment, and standards for radon drinking water. Operated under a contract with EPA.