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Radon threat

Date Published: 02/03/2020 [Source]

January was National Radon Action Month, but people can still take time in February to safeguard themselves and their families from this dangerous gas. The combination of cold air and closed windows and doors can lead to unsafe levels of radon in your home.

Radon is a naturally occurring, colorless, odorless, radioactive gas with a half-life of 3.8 days. When it is inhaled, the lungs get irradiated. Radon is second only to cigarette smoking as a leading cause of lung cancer.

Pennsylvania ranks third in the country for radon. In winter, when the air is colder than the ground, radon levels increase. I became aware of National Radon Action Month when I was testing out radon detectors in my own home. Even though the house had been tested and a radon abatement system installed when I bought the home 25 years ago, I found, to my dismay, unsafe levels. My forced air heating system was drawing the radon from the basement and circulating it throughout the house. I've since had the abatement system upgraded and replaced my furnace.

There are several ways to have a home tested. A radon test kit gives you a two-to-four day average, but you have to send it off to a lab. There are also a variety of in-home detectors. The least expensive (about $180) gives you one-day, seven-day, and "long-term" readings. You can also hire a firm that does testing and radon abatement. Regardless, now is a good time to check.