Who will protect you from radioactive radon gas exposure? The answer is “you!” The next question is: “Why should you be concerned?” Radon exposure increases your chance of lung cancer—it is the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality and the leading cause of death in the home. The solid radioactive particles emitted from radon gas can be inhaled into the lungs. The risk of the adverse health effect of radon exposure—lung cancer—increases proportionately with increasing radon concentrations and length of time of exposure. You may be exposed to radon for many years without ever suspecting its presence. There is no safe level of radon. The World Health Organization uses 2.7 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) as a reference level to take action. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency indicates that if your level is between 2-4 pCi/L, you should consider action.
What is radon? Radon is an invisible radioactive gas that is emitted from the decay products of uranium in the ground beneath our structures: homes, schools, churches, and workplaces. It can seep into our indoor environment through sump pits, floor joints, openings around basement pipes, and other openings or cracks in the foundation
Where is radon found? Elevated levels of radon have been found in every state in the U.S. as well as throughout the world. It can be present in any type of structure: old, new, basement, no basement, brick or frame.
How to test is simple. A short-term test (3 to 7 days) can be purchased online or at a local hardware store. A long-term device (91 days to a year)--referred to as alpha track--can be found from vendors such as RSSI, AccuStar, Pro-Lab, and Radtrak. You can also hire certified professional testors who are listed on these websites: www.nrpp.info/radon_measurement_service.shtml or www.nrsb.org or http://www.epa.gov/radon/whereyoulive.html. The only way to know if you are living with high levels of radon is to test!
Where should you place the test device? If the home has a basement, place it there. If there is no basement, place it in the bedroom or family room. Be sure to read the directions on the test device carefully.
When to test is up to you; now is a great time! It is important that the doors and windows stay closed 12 hours before the test begins. In the winter, that is easy. January is National Radon Action Month; however, each month should be considered radon action month!
How you can protect yourself and others? The answer is through education and action. If your level is elevated, contact a certified radon professional to install a radon mitigation system for you. If a mitigation system is properly installed, it can reduce your radon level by up to 95%. You can find a certified radon mitigator in your area on these sites: www.nrpp.inf/radon_mitigation_service.shtml or www.nsb.org or http://www.epa.gov/radon/whereyou live.htm.
What you can also do includes contacting your state legislators and informing them about your concern over the lack of awareness, education, and action needed to protect you and others from this silent killer—radon-- that is so unknown to so many of our citizens. You can find out about the state radon laws at www.eli.org/buildings. Click on radon topic to see a list of radon publications by the Environmental Law Institute including a database of all the state radon laws which is updated annually. Remember, you are the one who can protect yourself and others by sharing your knowledge of the danger of radioactive radon gas exposure with your friends, family, neighbors, and legislators. Please take action today. The following agencies strongly urge you to test for radon and reduce concentrations as needed to protect your health and the health of your family: American Medical Association, Center for Disease Control, National Cancer Institute, National Academy of Science, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Public Health Service and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.