Date Published: 01/23/2020 [Source]
Radon, a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in most soil, is the second-leading cause of lung cancer among smokers and the No. 1 cause among nonsmokers. It is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates.
January is National Radon Action Month, and the Indiana State Department of Health is urging homeowners to test their homes for radon because this tasteless, colorless and odorless gas can build up in homes without residents' knowledge.
"You can't see, smell or taste radon, but it could be present at a dangerous level in your home," said state health commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG. "By testing, Hoosiers can determine whether a high radon level is present and take steps to fix the problem and ensure their families are breathing safe and healthy air."
Indiana residents can purchase a short-term test kit for as little as $15 from the American Lung Association through its website.
Radon enters homes and other buildings through small cracks and holes in the foundation, where it becomes trapped and accumulates in the air. When people breathe in radon, it damages the lungs. Long-term exposure can eventually cause lung cancer.
There is no safe level for radon, but the EPA and U.S. surgeon general recommend fixing homes that have levels at or above 4pCi/L (picocuries per liter). More than two-thirds of Indiana counties have predicted average indoor radon levels of 4 pCi/L, according to the EPA.
If high levels of radon are detected, licensed contractors can install mitigation systems to eliminate the problem and protect occupants of the home.