Home checklist: Radon may be invading your home

Published: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 - 12:00 am

It’s a silent and invisible killer that few people think about – but it could be leaking into your home.

Radon, which is naturally released in some soils, has been traced to thousands of deaths, yet most people have no idea if it threatens their health. That prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate January as “National Radon Action Month” to encourage Americans to test their homes for radon.

According to EPA estimates, one in 15 homes nationwide have dangerous levels of radon. But some areas – such as South Lake Tahoe – have a much higher rate.

What’s so bad about radon? Here’s a snapshot, courtesy the EPA:

•  Hidden threat: The majority of radon comes from the soil, so this poisonous gas can seep through cracks or openings in a home’s foundation. Once inside the enclosed house, it can cause unhealthy amounts to accumulate in the air you and your family breathes. Remember: Radon is invisible, odorless and tasteless, making it impossible to detect through human senses.

•  The risk: According to the National Radon Defense organization, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, resulting annually in more than 20,000 cancer deaths. More deaths are linked to radon each year than to drunken driving, falls in the home, drowning or home fires.

•  Take action: The only way to detect hazardous radon levels inside the home is with a testing kit. For example, First Alert’s Radon Gas Test Kit offers an easy way to get a baseline on a home’s potential radon danger. The kit is set out for 24 hours inside the home. It’s then mailed to a lab for analysis and results. Kits are available for less than $20 and are sold at many local and national retailers.

For more tips and information on radon dangers, visit the EPA’s radon website at www.epa.gov/radon/nram.

– Debbie Arrington



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