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Frigid Temperatures Make January a Good Time for Radon Testing

Release Date: 1/14/2004
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

PHILADELPHIA – Recent arctic temperatures make us want to hibernate indoors. But as we batten down the hatches against the frigid cold weather, we could be exposing ourselves to radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking.

January is Radon Action Month, and it's a good time to test your home for this radioactive gas that causes more deaths than drunk driving - 22,000 people per year.

Testing is the only way to know if radon is present in a home because you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, and you can’t taste it.

Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It is harmless when dispersed into outdoor air. But when it becomes trapped inside buildings, it can be harmful at elevated levels. It typically moves up through the ground to the air in your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. This means any home can have a radon problem, whether it is new or old, well-sealed or drafty, with or without basements.

Simple, inexpensive do-it-yourself radon test kits are available. EPA recommends that houses with radon levels of four picocuries or more of radon should be vented to prevent accumulation of the gas indoors.

A variety of methods can be used to reduce radon in homes. Sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation is a basic part of most approaches to radon reduction. EPA does not recommend the use of sealing alone to limit radon entry. Sealing alone has not been shown to lower radon levels significantly or consistently.

In most cases, a system with a vent pipe and fan is used to reduce radon. These "sub-slab depressurization" systems do not require major changes to your home. They prevent radon gas from entering the home from below the concrete floor and from outside the foundation.

The cost of making repairs depends on how your home was built and the extent of the radon problems. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs like painting or having anew hot water heater installed. The average range for a contractor is between $500 and $2,500.

For best results,EPA recommends that the radon test be conducted in the lowest liveable level of the home, such as the basement, during the colder months of the year. Tests can also be taken during other times of the year if windows and doors have been closed for 12 hours prior to testing.

To learn more about how to receive a discounted radon home test kit or for more information about radon, and how to contact your state radon office, go to: , or call 1-800-SOS-Radon.



Radio Editor's Note: An EPA audio file on this topic is available in mp3.
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