January is National Radon Action Month: Test Your Home. Protect Your Health.

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The Risk of Radon

You can’t see, smell, or taste radon, but it could be present at a dangerous level in your home.  Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among non-smokers in America and claims the lives of about 20,000 Americans each year.  In fact, the EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General urge all Americans to protect their health by testing their homes, schools, and other buildings for radon. Exposure to radon is a preventable health risk, and testing radon levels in your home can help prevent unnecessary exposure.  If a high radon level is detected in your home, you can take steps to fix the problem to protect yourself and your family.

What is Radon?


Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas released in rock, soil, and water from the natural decay of uranium.  While levels in outdoor air pose a relatively low threat to human health, radon can accumulate to dan

gerous levels inside buildings. Radon has been found in elevated levels in homes in every state.  No area of the country is free from risk.  Indeed, two homes right next to each other can have vastly different radon levels.  H

igh levels of radon in homes usua

lly come from the surrounding soil.

Pathways into the Home 

A.  Cracks in concrete slabs

B.  Spaces behind brick veneer walls that rest on uncapped hollow-block formations

C.  Pores & cracks in concrete blocks

D.  Floor-wall joints

E.  Exposed soil, as in a sump or crawl space

F.  Weeping (drain) tile, if drained to an open sump

G.  Mortar joints

H.  Loose fitting pipe penetrations

I.  Open tops of block walls

J.  Building materials:  brick, concrete, and rock

K.  Well water (not commonly a major source in Minnesota homes)

Take Action

EPA has designated January as National Radon Action Month and has put a list of three things you can do during National Radon Action Month.

  1. Test Your Home: recommended by EPA and U.S. Surgeon General in all homes in the United States; easy and inexpensive.
    1. Purchase a test kit from your local home improvement or hardware store.  Many kits are priced under $25.00.
    2. Visit www.sosradon.org on obtaining test kits and test kit coupons
    3. Contact your state radon program, www.epa.gov/iaq/whereyoulive.html, for more information about obtaining test kits from your state or from a radon testing company or laboratory in your area.
  1. Spread the Word: spend time during National Radon Action Month encouraging others to learn more about radon and test their homes by:
    1. Tell your family and friends about the health risk of radon. Encourage them to test their homes.
    2. Write an op-ed or letter to the editor for the local community paper explaining radon and getting homes tested.
  1. Buy a Radon-Resistant Home: If you are considering buying a new home, look for builders that use radon-resistant new construction.  Contact your state radon program for information about radon testing, mitigation, and radon-resistant new construction in your area.
    1. EPA offers a Step-by-Step guide:  “Building Radon Out:  A Step-by-Step Guide to Build Radon-Resistant Homes”

EPA – www.epa.gov/radon/nram/index.html