By Larainne Koehler
The hustle and bustle of the holidays is over and we are having some of the coldest weather in years. Our doors and windows are closed against the cold, and that’s one of the first steps in getting a good radon test.
By now some of you are asking – “What is radon and why do you need a test for it?” Others are remembering that they have heard about it but haven’t taken action yet – what are you waiting for?
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the decay of naturally occurring radium and uranium in the earth. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer overall and the LEADING cause in non-smokers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as many as 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year are caused by radon. Radon is colorless and odorless, so the only way to know if your home has a problem is to test for it.
EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon and if the levels are high, take steps to lower them. Now you may be thinking – “How do I find a test?” Ready for that one – Do-it yourself test kits are available online and at many home improvement and hardware stores. Just follow the instructions that come with the kit and then send it back to the lab for analysis. New York State, where my office is located, has a special test kit program for residents. To see if your State has a test kit program, you can find your State Radon Contact at http://www.epa.gov/radon/whereyoulive.html
Take a step for a healthier and safer 2015 and test your home today.
Larainne Koehler is the Radon and Indoor Air Coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 and has been working on radon since she joined EPA in 1984.
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