Yes, although radon has been out of the news lately, it is still an extremely important environmental health exposure. Pennsylvania has one of the most serious radon problems in the county. An estimated 40 percent of Pennsylvania homes have radon levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s action guideline of 4 picocuries per liter. Fall and Winter are the best time to test for Radon and I hope what follows convinces you to test your home.
Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil, rock and water underneath your home. Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US (smoking is first). If you smoke and have an elevated level of Radon in your home your risk of cancer is much higher! Since there are no immediate symptoms related to radon exposure, it may take years before cancer appears. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2014 10,290 people were diagnosed with and 7,600 people died of lung cancer in Pennsylvania.
Radon gases enter your home from cracks in the foundation and can build up in the lowest levels of your home. Testing your home for radon is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk of exposure. Tests should be conducted using an EPA Certified device and placed in the lowest lived in area of your home and cost $10 – $24 at your local hardware store. For accurate results, it is recommended to keep windows and exterior doors shut to prevent outdoor air from diluting the concentration of radon gases inside of your home. Thus making the Fall and Winter seasons the perfect time to test your home!
Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L); homes with levels at or above 4 pCi/L are considered by the EPA to be hazardous, which means that your risk of cancer from radon is increased. Homes with levels at or above 4 pCi/L should be remediated by a certified radon mitigation professional. Although remediation sounds expensive, it can often be done for several thousand dollars. To test your home for radon you can purchase an EPA certified Radon Test Kit from your local hardware store or visit the PA Department of Environmental Protection website for a directory of services including certified mitigation professionals in your area.