This is National Radon Month, as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency, as the EPA works with agencies and others across the country to make people aware that radon gas is very dangerous – and may be lurking in homes where families are unaware of the danger they are facing from radon exposure.
Illinois and Indiana and their surrounding states are in the highest areas of radon danger (see the diagram below) and it is important that our communities become aware of the dangers of high radon gas levels and the need to have homes and offices and other environments tested for high radon levels. Radon is a killer. In fact, radon ranks right up there with smoking tobacco and inhaling secondhand smoke as a cause of lung cancer in this country and around the world.
What is radon?
Radon is a gas. Radon is invisible – it can exist in a home or apartment or schoolroom or condo without anyone being aware of its presence. You can’t smell it, see it, or taste it. Radon kills around 20,000 Americans each year as they breathe in radon over time, in the comfortable rooms of their homes, unaware of radon levels and toxic exposure.
Radon is a radioactive gas that is a byproduct of uranium breaking down in water, earth, or rock, that lies beneath a structure. It seeps into the building because of a difference in air pressure between the earth beneath the structure and the air pressure inside the building. It does not evaporate or disappear once it’s inside the structure, and silently sets there, to be inhaled by anyone inside. Radon can sometimes come into homes from building materials, too (like granite and concrete) but they are rarely the primary source of radon poisoning.
How to Test for Radon
Testing for radon must be done to accurate determine if radon is present in a building. Owners and landlords should test for radon levels, especially in high risk areas like those shown in red on the diagram below. Tests can be purchased and done by individuals but most agree that independent contractors offer superior methods of radon testing. For details on testing for radon as well as how to locate a radon testing contractor, please review and download the EPA publication on Radon Testing for Consumers.