Did you know that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking in the United States? Each year, lung cancer caused by radon exposure kills about 21,000 Americans. This colorless, odorless and tasteless gas, which comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water, can seep through your home’s foundation and into your breathing space.
Testing is the only way to know if your home has elevated levels of radon. Fortunately, testing is inexpensive and easy. You can buy a radon test kit at most hardware stores or hire someone to do the testing. You need to take action to reduce the radon level in your home if it is at or above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air.
If your home has elevated radon levels, a radon-reduction system can be installed to remove radon from beneath your home and harmlessly discharge it outdoors. These systems have a vent pipe and exhaust fan. If you’re building a new home, you should ask your builder to use radon-resistant construction methods.
The Oregon Health Authority has excellent information on radon, including where to get test kits, risk level maps that show average radon levels at various locations in Oregon, and how to take action should levels be too high. The National Library of Medicine also has excellent information on radon.
January is National Radon Action Month – this would be a great time to take action to prevent your family’s exposure to radon.