Radon gas sounds like a weapon in a superhero movie, but it’s a real-life problem that can cause life-threatening damage to human lungs.
Radon is an odorless, colorless, and radioactive gas that is the product of decaying uranium and is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking.
The worst part? It could be in your home.
January is National Radon Action Month During this time, VDH emphasizes the dangers of the gas and how to reduce it in water, homes, and other buildings.
The naturally-occurring gas can get into your home through cracks, crevices, and small holes. Radon gas can be inhaled and can cause cancer – especially if you are exposed to it for many years.
Smoking can increase radon risk by as much as 10 times.
Radon also can be found in private wells but is not usually found in public water sources. Systems can be installed to reduce the amount of radon in well water.
So how do you know if radon is a problem in your home? You can buy a test kit or call a professional. Testing is affordable and depending on the findings, radon can be reduced or prevented from entering your home. The average cost for a professional to lower levels of radon in a home is about $1,200, according to the National Radon Program.
Here are some tips for testing your home for radon:
- You can buy and test your home yourself or hire someone certified by the National Radon Safety Board or the National Radon Proficiency Program.
- If you buy a test yourself, avoid testing in closets, storerooms, kitchens, bathrooms and crawlspaces. Test on the lowest level of your home that can be lived in. Bedrooms or family rooms are the best places to test.
- Don’t place your test kit against building materials made of natural rock. Make sure the kit is at least 20 inches off the floor.
- A test should be done in a space that has breathable air. About 3-6 feet off the floor is best. It should not be too close to walls, windows or other areas where you think radon could get into your home.
- Try not to test during long lasting severe storms that cause heavy rain, high sustained winds or abnormally low atmospheric pressure.
Want to learn more about radon? Visit the Virginia Department of Health’s Frequently Asked Questions about Radon and explore more related topics.