Radon, a cancer-causing gas that can reach toxic levels in your home, is responsible for approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year. Many victims never even picked up a cigarette. And even more frightening is the idea that at this moment, you may not even know you have a problem. That’s why it’s so important to test your home for radon. January is National Radon Action Month and there’s never been a better time to find out if you’re at risk.
Radon is formed when the chemical element uranium naturally decays in soil, rock, and water. As it breaks down, tiny radioactive particles are released into the air. These particles enter and become trapped in your lungs as you breathe, increasing your risk of developing lung cancer.
Radon typically rises up from the ground and seeps into your home through its foundation, water supply, or cracks in walls and flooring. Although there is almost always a very low and harmless concentration of radon in the air, the gas can sometimes reach toxic levels indoors, especially in basements, garages, and other low-level spaces.
To find out if your home harbors a radon problem, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends testing your air with a radon test kit or radon detector. Radon gas detectors are simple, do-it-yourself tools that alert you to unsafe radon levels, so you can take steps to mitigate the issue and protect yourself and your family.
One popular option is the Safety Siren Pro Series 3 Radon Gas Detector. Mounting easily to a wall, this gas detector features a clear numeric LED display, an audible alarm, and a continuous monitoring capability that provides both short- and long-term average readings.
If at any time your radon level measures above 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L), which is considered unhealthy, the detector will alert you with an audible alarm. The alarm chirps every hour until safe levels (below 2 pCi/L return). A sustained radon level exceeding 4 pCi/L means you’ll need to enlist the help of a qualified radon mitigation specialist to reduce your risk of radon exposure.
To learn more about radon exposure, radon-related health problems, and what to do about a radon problem, read our article on radon awareness. You can also visit the EPA’s comprehensive radon learning center for more testing tips and information about working with radon contractors.
If you’re still on the fence about finding out whether or not you’re at risk, check out Eddie’s eye-opening story:
National Radon Action Month is the perfect time to find out your risk.