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Winter is a Good Time for Radon Testing

Release Date: 1/11/2005
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

PHILADELPHIA – As winter temperatures keep people inside for long periods of time, homeowners should take steps to ensure they are not being exposed to radon, the second leading cause of cancer, after smoking.

January is National Radon Action Month in the U.S., and it’s a good time to test home for this radioactive gas which causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year.

Conducting a radon test is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk of radon because you can’t see it, smell it, or even taste it. And winter is the best time to conduct a test because doors and windows are sealed tight against the cold, which ensures a more accurate radon reading.

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.

Radon test kits are easy to use and inexpensive. “With all the damage our home experienced from the fall floods, maintaining good indoor air quality was important. The radon test kit was simple to use and the results provided peace of mind that our home was radon free,” said Judith Katz, director, EPA’s regional Air Protection Division.

For best results, EPA recommends that the radon test be conducted in the lowest livable 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.

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 frm 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 price for a contractor ranges from $500 and $2,500.

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.