National Radon Action Month is observed in January. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly one out of every 15 homes in the United States has elevated radon levels. There is no known safe level of exposure.  (Graphic illustration courtesy EPA)
National Radon Action Month is observed in January. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly one out of every 15 homes in the United States has elevated radon levels. There is no known safe level of exposure. (Graphic illustration courtesy EPA) (Photo Credit: EPA) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – You can improve the quality of air your family breathes. In observance of National Radon Action Month, please take time to find out the levels of radon in your home.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly one out of every 15 homes in the United States has elevated radon levels. There is no known safe level of exposure. Although radon is a naturally occurring gas, it is also radioactive. According to the EPA, exposure to radon in the home is responsible for at least 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year. This colorless, odorless and tasteless gas, is an invisible hazard that can only be detected by testing.

Testing is a relatively easy, inexpensive process with do-it-yourself test kits available at many local hardware stores. Some state programs offer low-cost or free kits. Those who are uncomfortable performing the radon test can find a qualified contractor familiar with radon to do the testing for them. The EPA website has resources that can help you find a radon test kit and/or radon testing and mitigation professionals near you.

Most often, the radon in your home’s indoor air can come from two sources – the soil underneath the house or in the water supply.

Radon migration through the soil into the lowest level of the home is the main cause of radon problems. However, if you have a private well, consider testing for radon in both air and water. When radon contaminated water is used for bathing, washing laundry, or even flushing toilets, it is released from water and dispersed into the air.

Testing for radon in water differs from testing it in air. So, the devices and procedures for testing your home’s water supply are different from those used for measuring radon in the air.

The amount of radon gas in the air is measured in picocuries (pronounced pee-co-curries) per liter of air or pCi/L. The EPA has set a limit of 4 pCi/L for radon gas. The EPA strongly recommends that you take immediate action to fix your home, school or workplace if the results from the radon test show 4 pCi/L or more as elevated radon levels can cause lung cancer. If a test level shows between 2 and 4 pCi/L, still consider making changes to reduce the amount of radon.

Here are some steps you can take to prevent and reduce radon levels in your home:

  • The EPA recommends that you test your home every two years or after home renovations to monitor radon levels.
  • If building a new home, school or business, ask about radon-resistant construction.
  • If elevated levels of radon are detected, repair any problems with the foundation. Seal cracks and other openings around pipes and drains.
  • Cover any exposed earthen walls.
  • Paint concrete floors with sealant.
  • Maintain heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in your home. Have them serviced to ensure proper operation.
  • However, if confirmed high levels are found in the air, have a radon reduction system installed. Consult with a qualified professional to determine the best system dependent on the foundation type.
  • If elevated levels of radon are detected in your water supply, treat the water at the point of entry or at the point of use. A well water treatment system may need to be installed.

Please note that informed treatment decisions are made based on results from a radon air test, to avoid costly and unnecessary installations. For more information on radon, visit the EPA website.

The Defense Centers for Public Health-Aberdeen advances Joint Force health protection with agile public health enterprise solutions in support of the National Defense Strategy.

NOTE: The mention of any non-federal entity and/or its products is for informational purposes only, and not to be construed or interpreted, in any manner, as federal endorsement.