January is National Radon Action Month, when the EPA encourages all Americans to test their homes for radon. Exposure to radon in indoor air is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Test your home and make 2017 a safer and healthier year.
“January is the time when we remind everyone to ‘test, fix and save a life.’ That’s because lung cancer due to radon can be prevented by testing, and if needed, fixing your home. It’s a simple and important way to help safeguard your family’s health,” said Jon Edwards, Director of EPA’s Office of Radiation and Indoor Air. “Testing is inexpensive and test kits are readily available and easy to use. Reducing your family’s exposure to radon provides peace of mind, knowing that you’re doing the right thing to help avoid the toll taken by radon-induced lung cancer.”
Every year an estimated 21,000 Americans die from lung cancer due to radon exposure. There’s only one way to know whether your home has an elevated radon level: testing for it. If the radon level is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air or more, the U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend taking action to fix your home. With a test result of 4 pCi/L or more, you should contact a qualified radon mitigation contractor.
Easy to use do-it-yourself radon test kits are affordable and available online and at many home improvement and hardware stores. You can also hire a qualified radon professional. Testing may show your home to have a high radon level. If so, a professionally installed radon reduction system, using a vent pipe and exhaust fan, will help prevent the radon from entering your home and will discharge it outside. When compared with risk of lung cancer, these systems are very affordable, generally in the price range of many common home improvements.
Reducing your exposure to radon is a long-term investment in your health and your home. A mitigation system in good working order is a positive selling point when placing your home on the market; in many areas radon testing is a routine part of a home sale. Are you buying a new home? Ask the seller if the home has been tested recently. If the results are high, the costs to fix it can be factored into the sale. Thinking of building a new home? Work with your builder to include radon-resistant construction techniques.
Strategies to reduce radon exposure, like those above, are included in the National Radon Action Plan. The Plan was launched in November 2015 by EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Health and Human Services, and nine national non-governmental organizations. This national partnership coordinates radon reduction efforts and resources. The Plan’s goal is to prevent 3,200 lung cancer deaths annually by 2020.
To learn more about testing or obtaining a radon test kit, contact your state radon office at 1-800-SOS-RADON. Visit https://www.epa.gov/radon to find a qualified radon professional, or learn more about the National Radon Action Plan partnership.