From Curt Spalding, regional administrator of the EPA’s New England Office in Boston:
Most New Year’s resolutions made by New Englanders involve our personal health — exercising more, eating better, losing weight or quitting smoking. EPA recommends a smart resolution that will take minimal effort or cost, and will protect your whole family’s health and increase your peace of mind. This winter, test your home for radon.
Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium deposits in soil. Exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Elevated radon levels have been found in homes all across the nation – and in every state here in New England.
Radon can seep in through your home’s foundation and, without sufficient ventilation, may build up to unsafe levels. EPA estimates that one in fifteen U.S. homes has elevated radon levels. In some areas, one out of every two homes has high radon levels. The only way to know if your home has high levels of radon is to test for it.
Winter is the best time to test for radon, because we keep windows and doors closed most of the time. With less ventilation in our homes during the winter, a radon test will show your home’s maximum levels, giving you a better idea of whether your family is at risk from radon.
A simple test is the first step toward protecting yourself and your family. If you do find high radon levels in your home, fixing the problem is straightforward and costs about as much as most common home repairs. Do-It-Yourself kits are available online and at most major hardware stores.
You can also contact your state radon office for more testing assistance (for a list, click here or call 1-800-SOS-Radon). Certified radon professionals can also perform accurate and reliable radon tests. With proven techniques and time-tested, durable materials, most radon problems can be quickly fixed.
Based on findings from the National Academy of Sciences, EPA estimates that about 21,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer each year. This makes radon the second-leading cause of lung cancer in our nation and the number one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers.
Taking action to test and fix high levels of radon gas is not only a strong investment for your family’s health, but also for your home. A home that has a system that reduces radon levels to acceptable levels can be a positive selling point when you put a house on the market. In many areas, disclosure of radon levels is a required part of real estate transactions.
If you are house hunting, be sure to ask if the home has been tested for radon, whether or not it is required in your area. Also, if you are looking to build a new home, there are now effective and healthier radon-resistant construction techniques that home buyers can discuss with builders to reduce this health hazard.
Radon is a problem you can do something about.