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Radon, a colorless and odorless gas, is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated January as National Radon Action Month.
Radon comes from the breakdown of uranium in rock, soil and water. From there, it can make its way into any environment or building. However, the largest exposure area is your home, where you likely spend most of your time. The EPA estimates that 1 out of every 15 homes has dangerous levels of radon. As a result, the EPA and the Surgeon General both recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.
Fortunately, it’s easy to test your home. Radon test kits can be obtained through the mail and at some hardware stores. It’s also possible to contact a certified radon specialist to test your home for you. There are two common types of tests:
- Short-term test: These tests stay in your home for two to 90 days, depending on the specific model. A short-term test can be a great way to get a quick idea of your home’s radon levels. However, radon levels can vary throughout the year, so these tests may not give an accurate reading of your home’s average annual radon level.
- Long-term test: These tests stay in your home for longer than 90 days. As a result, they can give you an idea of your home’s average radon level.
Radon levels are measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). The EPA estimates the average indoor radon level to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and recommends that homes should have no more than 4 pCi/L. If your home contains a dangerously high amount of radon, you may need to install a removal system to ventilate the gas outside.