Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem; this means new homes, well-sealed homes and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.
Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths each year. That is because when you breathe air containing radon, you can get lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.
Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes for radon. Testing is inexpensive and easy. There are also professional inspection companies that can do the testing.
If a radon problem does exist, there are simple and inexpensive ways to fix the problem. Even high levels of radon can be reduced to acceptable levels.
The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and about 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air. The US Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no more than outdoor levels. While this goal is not yet technologically achievable in all cases, most homes today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below.
Like other environmental pollutants, there is some uncertainty about the magnitude of radon health risks. However, there is more known about radon risks than risks from most other cancer-causing substances. Estimates of radon risks are based on studies of cancer in humans (underground miners). Additional studies on more typical populations are underway.
Information provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.)