Radon: A Silent Assassin
Radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer, is a radioactive gas emitted from the ground that may seep into the home. Radon is odorless, tasteless, and invisible, making it impossible to detect without the proper equipment.
The EPA recommends, whether you are buying or selling a home, to have it tested for radon. For a new home, ask if radon-resistant construction features were used and if the home has been tested.
Approximately 18,000 lung cancer deaths occur in the U.S. every year that are linked to radon. Roughly 1 in 15 homes have radon levels above the limits recommended by the EPA.
Radon In Homes
For most people, the greatest exposure to radon occurs in the home. The amount of radon in a home depends on the amount of uranium in the underlying rocks and soils, the routes available for the passage of radon from the soil into the home, and the rate of exchange between indoor and outdoor air, which depends on the construction of the house and the ventilation habits of the inhabitants.
Radon enters homes through cracks in the floors or at floor-wall junctions, gaps around pipes or cables, small pores in hollow-block walls, or sumps or drains. Radon levels are usually higher in basements, cellars or living spaces in contact with soil.
Reducing Radon In Homes
Well-tested, durable and cost-efficient methods exist for preventing radon in new houses and reducing radon in existing dwellings. Radon prevention should be considered when new houses are built, particularly in radon prone areas. In many countries of Europe and in the United States of America, the inclusion of protective measures in new buildings has become a routine measure. In some countries it has become a mandatory procedure.