Radon – Stopping the Silent Killer

(February 21, 2013)

There may be a silent killer lurking in your home.

The killer is the colorless, tasteless and odorless gas, radon, which causes an estimated 20,000 deaths from lung cancer each year. Radon is emitted from the ground and enters a home through cracks in walls, basements, floors and other openings. Only smoking causes more lung cancer. That invisible threat is why the American Lung Association applauded the recent announcement by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that it is taking steps to protect families from exposure to this dangerous culprit.

HUD will begin to require testing for this radioactive, natural gas in any multi-family house that has been financed or refinanced by the HUD. If tests indicate that unsafe levels of radon exist, the building will be repaired to reduce the radon to safer levels.

Announced at the same time was the Advancing Healthy Housing: A Strategy for Action report by the Federal Healthy Homes Work Group, which includes the HUD, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

While HUD's plan is a positive step in protecting a great number of Americans who live in multi-family housing, it's also a great reminder to everyone to conduct a simple test to learn if the radon levels where they live are above the recommended limit. According to the EPA, nearly one out of every fifteen households in the U.S. has high levels of radon.

Detecting radon

Radon can build up in any house – old or new – and performing a radon test is the only way to find out if your home has unsafe levels.

Homeowners can use do-it-yourself radon testing kits. To find out where to buy a kit, call 1-800-SOS RADON (1-800-767-7236), or visit the EPA website.

If you have high levels of radon, mitigation systems can be installed that effectively pull radon out of your home, using fans and pipes. If you're building a new home, consider installing a simple ventilation system that can protect your family from radon gas getting into your home.

Radon may be well hidden, but with a little help, you can find it and beat it. Find out more by contacting the American Lung Association Lung HelpLine (1-800-LUNG-USA) or checking here.