January is National Radon Action Month.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is encouraging Americans in all areas of country to test their homes for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas.
“Many people don’t realize that radon is the second cause of lung cancer after smoking,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
Each year, about 21,000 Americans die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon.
Testing is the only way to know if a home has elevated levels of radon, McCarthy said. The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend taking action to reduce the radon level if it’s at or above 4 picocuries per Liter of air.
If your test result is 4 pCi/L or more, you should contact a qualified radon-reduction or mitigation contractor, she said.
A radon reduction system can be installed that removes the radon from under your home and discharges it outside. It’s done by using a vent pipe and exhaust fan.
Taking action to reduce your exposure to radon is also a long-term health investment, McCarthy said.
A working mitigation system is a positive selling point for homes on the market, according to the EPA. In many areas, a radon test is part of real estate transactions.
If you’re building a new home, work with your builder to include radon-resistant construction techniques.
More information on how to test, obtain a test kit, contact your state radon office, and find a qualified radon professional is available at http://www.epa.gov/radon or by calling 800-SOS-RADON.