Compiled all your New Year's resolutions, have you? Bet you don't have this one on your list, but it could save your life: Test your home for radon. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and January is National Radon Awareness Month, a good time to protect your family against the dangers of this hidden risk.
What is radon?
Radon is a natural, but radioactive gas from the soil and rock beneath homes in the United States. Even though it seeps into your home, you can't see it, smell it or taste it. But radon can kill. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is responsible for about 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. Not many people know that a simple test in your home can tell you if you need to take steps to reduce the risk to yourself and your family.
Radon can build up in any house -- old or new -- and testing is the only way to find out if your home has unsafe levels. January is the perfect time to test, since most Americans keep the doors and windows shut in the winter, giving you a much more accurate picture of the radon levels in your home. Homeowners can use simple, do-it-yourself radon testing kits. To prevent lung cancer and find out where to buy a kit, call 1-800-SOS RADON (1-800-767-7236), or visit the EPA website: www.epa.gov/radon/.
How to protect you and your family from radon:
If you have high levels of radon, mitigation systems can be installed that effectively pull radon out of your home. If you're building a new home, consider installing a simple, inexpensive ventilation system that can protect your family from radon gas. For more information about getting rid of radon in your home, you can go to the EPA's free Consumer's Guide, at www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/consguid.html.
Live in an apartment? The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that they will require testing for radon in any multi-family housing that receives HUD financing or refinancing. If high levels of radon are found, HUD will require that the building be repaired to reduce indoor radon levels. This is great news that will protect thousands from deadly radon exposure.
But more needs to be done. All homes need to get tested for radon, and those that have high levels, need to get fixed. New homes need to be built with these low-cost radon protection systems in place. The Lung Association is currently working with partners to make these steps become a reality, because we know all too well the deadly lung cancer radon causes.
So if your newest resolution is to protect your family from radon, with a little help, you can find it and beat it. Find out more information by contacting the American Lung Association Lung HelpLine (1-800-LUNG-USA) or visiting www.Lung.org.