Radon gas is an odorless, tasteless gas that is present in many homes in Idaho. It’s dangerous in high levels – it is the leading cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers. It’s a serious health issue in Idaho, and it causes more than 20,000 deaths a year in the United States. The only way to know it’s in your home is to test for it, and the testing is simple and inexpensive.
How does radon get into homes?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium. It seeps from soil into homes and buildings through crawl spaces and cracks and openings in foundations. It builds up the most in winter, when homes are closed against the cold and get less fresh air.
Why should we care about this in Idaho?
High levels of radon have been found in every county in the state. Since radon is found throughout Idaho, it’s important to have your home tested so you can remove it if levels are high.
How does radon cause lung cancer?
When radon gas decays, it breaks down into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As the particles continue to decay, they release small bursts of energy that can damage lung tissue and may lead to lung cancer in some people after long-term exposure. The risk of developing lung cancer depends on several variables, including how long you’ve been exposed and how high the levels of radon are. Smoking in addition to radon exposure increases your risk even more.
How can you tell if your home has radon in it?
The only way to know for sure is to test for it. We know the dangerous gas is present in all areas of the state. Every home is different and should be tested, regardless of how old it is or the type of construction. Since homes in the same neighborhood will have different radon test results, testing your home is the only way to know for sure whether you have a radon problem. The good news is that every home with high levels of radon can be fixed.
Where can we get a test?
Test kits cost $9.95, and you can order them at www.radonidaho.org. The cost includes the test, shipping costs, and lab analysis.
How would someone know what to do after they receive their results?
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you reduce radon in your home if you have levels at or above 4.0 picocuries per liter of air. Radon mitigation can be done by homeowners or hired professionals. If you have questions about your results or what you should do next, you can call the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Indoor Environment Program at 1-800-445-8647 or visit www.radonidaho.org.