was this past week!  There were so many things to focus on during the week of October 17-23, it was difficult to address all of them.  Today, we will explain some things about radon, (Rn), a gaseous radioactive element.  It is an extremely toxic, colorless gas and can be condensed to a transparent liquid and to an opaque, glowing solid.  It derives from the radioactive decay of radium and is used in cancer treatment, as a tracer in leak detection, and in radiography.  The source of this technical explanation is Condensed Chemical Dictionary and Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. 

Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water, and gets into the air you breathe, or sometimes the water you drink.  It is located all over the United States, and can be found in homes, offices, and schools.  The home is the most likely place to furnish the most exposure, because that’s where you spend most of your time.  Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems.  It can enter the home through well water, but mostly it enters the home through the soil.  Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe.  These particles can cause damage to lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of a lifetime.  Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer, and the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may take many years. 

You can’t see, smell, or taste radon.  It is thought to cause many thousands of deaths each year.  The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. today.  Only smoking causes more lung cancers deaths; if you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high. 

The only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon is testing.  The Surgeon General and EPA recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon, as well as testing in schools.  Call your state radon office about radon problems in schools, daycare, and childcare facilities, and workplaces in your area.  

It’s Not Hard to Find Out if You Have a Radon Problem 

Testing is easy and fast.  Radon in the air is measured in “picocuries per liter of air,” or “pCi/L.”  There are many kinds of low-cost “do-it-yourself” radon test kits you can order or find in hardware stores.  If you wish to use a qualified tester, you can also call your state radon office for information.  There are short-term tests, and long-term tests.  If you take a short-term type, and the result is 4 pCi/L or higher, take the follow-up test or a second short-term test.  Consider fixing your home if the average of both tests is this amount or higher. 

Home-buyers and renters are asking more often about radon levels before they buy or rent a home.  If you are thinking about selling your current home, make plans now to test for radon rather than run the risk of slowing down your home sale later.  Many new homes today are built to prevent radon from entering.  Ask the owner if the home has radon-resistant features.  If there is a test result of 4 pCi/L or more, a vent fan can be added to an existing passive system for around $300, and further reduce the radon level in your home. 

It requires persons with technical knowledge and special skills to lower high radon levels.  There are contractors who are trained in this field; they can study the radon problem and help you choose the correct treatment method.  Your state radon office can furnish names of qualified or state certified radon contractors in your area.  For more information, please go to   Radon reduction systems work, and are not too costly.  Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99 per cent.  Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels, according to the EPA.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency