Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that occurs naturally in the environment. It can enter homes through cracks in the foundation and go unnoticed for long periods of time – potentially causing long-term lung health problems for those living inside. Breathing in radon can damage cells in the lungs and even lead to lung cancer. Exposure to radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, causing nearly 21,000 deaths annually. January is Radon Action Month, a great time to test your home for unsafe levels of this gas and take steps to remove it if needed.
According to the U.S. EPA, nearly one in 15 homes has elevated radon levels. Home testing is the only way to identify elevated levels of radon, but you can purchase affordable, do-it-yourself test kits from most hardware stores and online.
There are a variety of short-term testing devices that take between two and 90 days to complete. These are good if you need quick results. Long-term devices remain in the home for more than 90 days. They may provide a more accurate radon average as levels vary from season to season.
If test results are above 4.0 pCi/L — a measure of radioactivity in a liter of air — you should take additional steps to reduce radon levels. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has a list of professionals trained to mitigate radon in residential areas who can help you address these issues.
Experts recommend testing your home every two years.
Have additional questions about radon gas or how you can make sure your home is safe? Learn more with our library of radon-related resources.