January is National Radon Action Month

January is national radon action month. It’s a month dedicated to learning about the dangers of radon, spreading awareness of these dangers, and taking action to protect yourself from radon in your home.

What is Radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that can be carcinogenic, and can lead to developing lung cancer. Because you cannot see, smell, or taste radon, it means that you cannot detect it by traditional means and that you could be exposed to it without ever knowing.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, after smoking, resulting in about 21,000 deaths every year in America. 

How Can Radon Enter Your Home or Building?
Radon is a naturally forming compound that results from the breakdown of uranium in soil or rock to radium and then radon gas. The radon gas then enters homes and buildings through cracks in the walls, floors, and foundation.

Radon is ubiquitous and can be found anywhere since it comes from soil and rock, meaning that even when you are outside you are likely being exposed to it. However, radon is much more problematic indoors, as the gas can get trapped inside and build up into dangerous concentrations.

What Are the Negative Health Effects of Radon?
As mentioned, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking. It is therefore believed to be the number one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers, and smokers who are also exposed to radon have a much higher chance of developing lung cancer, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Exposure to radon gas will result in you inhaling it and the radon gas radiating into the lining of your lungs, often causing cancer.

How Can Radon Be Tested?
As mentioned, radon gas cannot be detected by our normal human senses; however, radon test kits that test the air for radon can be purchased and used at home or in an office building. They are easy to use and can give you results as soon as two to seven days. You can find radon tests online and in most home improvement stores. Some locales offer free radon test kits.

How You Can Protect Against Radon in Your Home
There are several ways you can protect your home from radon emissions. Some of the most common include.  

  • Radon-resistant-features, such as plastic sheeting, and gas permeable layers, can be used in the construction of a house to prevent radon from leaching into your home.
  • Whole house fans are a simple and effective method of eliminating built-up radon (and other harmful chemicals) from your home. Whole house fans replace stale, polluted air inside your home with outdoor air, ventilating and making sure that air doesn’t get trapped inside. Not only does this prevent harmful chemicals like radon from building up in your home, but whole house fans also prevent your home from overheating by replacing the trapped hot air with the cooler outside air.
  • Radon mitigation systems seal the cracks in your house and foundation while using vents to pump any radon out of your house. All below-grade openings in the concrete foundation floor of the home are sealed to reduce soil gas entry into the home.

Take action during National Radon Action Month to test for radon in your home, and take mitigation steps to reduce your risk.