What is Radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that forms naturally when uranium, thorium, or radium which are radioactive metals break down in rocks, soil, and groundwater. Radon comes naturally from the earth; therefore, people are always exposed to it. People can be exposed to radon primarily from breathing radon in air that comes through cracks of buildings and homes.
Why is Radon Important to Me and My Family?
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. If you smoke and live in a home with high radon levels, you increase your risk of developing lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General’s office estimate radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Radioactive particles from radon gas can get trapped in your lungs. Increased exposure to radon increases your risk of developing lung cancer. It may take years before any health problems appear.
Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:
- The amount of radon in your home. Mainly the location where you spend most of your time (e.g. main living areas and sleeping areas)
- The amount of time you spend in your home
- Whether you currently smoke or previously smoked
- Whether you burn wood, coal, or other substances that add particles to the indoor air
Test Your Home For Radon
Having your home tested is the only effective way to determine if you and your family are exposed to high levels of radon. The EPA recommends taking action to reduce radon in homes that have a radon level at or above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air.
To measure radon levels:
- Obtain a radon test kit
- The FCPHD provides free Radon testing kits
- Test your home or office
- Testing your home is inexpensive and easy. There are two types of tests: short-term and long-term. Short term tests requires opening a package, placing a small measuring device in a room, and leaving it in that location for anywhere from a few days up to 90 days. Long-term testing takes more than 90 days. Longer tests provide more accurate results of radon levels in your home and/or workplace.
- Send the kit to appropriate source to determine radon level
- The kit will have instructions to find out where the measuring device needs to be sent.
Take Action To Reduce Radon Levels in Your Home:
- Stop smoking and discourage smoking in your home.
- Increase air flow in your house by opening windows and using fans and vents to circulate air.
- Natural ventilation is a temporary strategy to reduce radon.
- Seal cracks in floors and walls with plaster, caulk, or other materials designed for this purpose.
- Contact your state radon office for a list of qualified contractors in your area and for information on how to fix radon yourself. After you have made your home improvements, be sure to test for radon levels again.
- Ask about radon resistant construction techniques is you are buying or building a new home.
- It is cheaper and easier to build these features into new homes versus adding them later.
For more information about the Radon Program, please contact Ford County Public Health Department at (217) 379-9281 or stop in at FCPHD and obtain your free radon test kit.
For more information, click on the resources below:
Test Your Home for Radon