January National Radon Awareness Month

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January is National Radon Awareness Month

Did you know that radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in America and claims the lives of 21,000 Americans each year? Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that forms when uranium in the earth’s surface begins to breakdown. Radon is all around us and normally isn’t a problem. However, if your home is sitting on soil that is emitting high amounts of radon gas, you and your family could be at risk. Radon gas moves from the soil into a home through pores in concrete as well as gaps in walls and flooring. Any house, of any age, in any state, can have elevated radon levels. Testing your home is the only way to know.

How do you test your home for radon?

There are different ways to test including short-term tests and long-term tests. It is usually recommended to start with a short-term test. Short-term tests are useful to see if further testing is warranted. Short-term test kits are available at home centers, hardware stores, and online retailers. Long-term tests are for monitoring average radon levels over an extended period of time. It is usually recommended to conduct the test in the lowest livable area of your house that is regularly used 8 to 10 hours per week.

What should you do if radon is detected in your home?

If an initial short-term test registers 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends doing a second radon test. If a second test registers above 4 pCi/L, consider taking steps to reduce radon levels in your home.

How do you lower radon levels in your home?

If you detect radon in your home, there are some things you can do to help reduce radon levels such as caulking foundation cracks, construction joints, and other openings with a polyurethane caulk, covering the soil in crawl spaces with a polyurethane plastic sheeting (with a minimum thickness of 6 mil) tightly attached to the walls, and if you have a sump pump, install an airtight cover over it. You would need to retest for radon levels after these repairs.

For complete peace of mind, you may want to call a Radon Mitigator. A Radon Mitigator is someone who specializes in removing radon gas from your home. For more information on radon gas and to find a Radon Mitigator visit the EPA’s website or the NC Department of Health and Human Services Radon Program.

The NC Radon Program has created new resources to help educate your county residents about radon. I’ve posted these on the Healthy Homes portal (link below)
Additionally, we partnered with the Radon Program to conduct a series of radon webinars. All of these recordings can be accessed here:
National Radon Month

Written By

Kim Terrell, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionKim TerrellExtension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences Call Kim E-mail Kim N.C. Cooperative Extension, Macon County Center
Updated on Jan 7, 2021
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