Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas with no taste or odor. It results from the decay of uranium, which is naturally found in the earth’s crust. Radon can be found everywhere, including home, school or work.
Radon can be found in the soil, air and water; but soil is usually the main contributor to radon in the home. Since radon is a gas, it can get into a building in many ways: cracks, gaps (such as around pipes) or wall cavities. Both newly constructed and older homes are at risk. Water containing radon, usually well water, can transfer radon into the home when using the dishwasher, doing the laundry or taking a shower. Once radon is inside it becomes trapped and radon levels start to rise.
Brief exposure to radon is not known to cause health problems. Long-term breathing of radon gas can increase the risk of lung cancer. People who smoke are at higher risk than nonsmokers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Academy of Sciences, radon causes approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Radon is second only to smoking in causing lung cancer. Smoking causes approximately 400,000 lung cancer deaths per year.
Although radon cannot be seen and it does not have an odor, there is an easy way to see if you have a problem with radon. Have your home tested. Need help or have questions about radon testing? Check with the Department of Health in your state. The CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency have information about radon testing on their websites. Unless you test for it, there is no way to know if radon is in your home.
The chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend most on:
- The amount of radon in your home;
- The amount of time you spend in your home;
- Whether you are a smoker (or have ever smoked).
Radon gas is released in small particles. These small particles can damage lung tissue over a lifetime. Not everyone exposed to radon develops lung cancer. The amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years. Now is the time to get your home tested for radon. Radon levels can be measured and lowered. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as many home improvements or repairs. Have your home tested to help prevent this important health risk.