January is National Radon Action Month – Protect Your Children’s Health

Whitney Levine

children's health radon map

This California map shows radon risk areas. Red marks the highest-risk zones, orange is moderate, and yellow areas are considered low risk. SOURCE: U.S. EPA

Radon gas is a nationwide problem, affecting one in 15 homes in the U.S. The colorless, odorless gas is invisible to the eye. It comes from decayed radium and uranium in soil, and invades homes and buildings through foundation cracks, openings and even directly through concrete, posing a threat to children’s health and the health of the whole family.

Radon is a carcinogen, and is the number-one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that levels of 4 picocuries and above are hazardous to human health, while the World Health Organization recommends that people should take action in buildings where levels are higher than 2.7 picocuries. Though Southern California is considered only a moderate risk area, experts encourage people everywhere to have their homes tested.

Radon testing can either be done by an outside tester or with a home radon test kit, available online or at a local hardware store. At-home test kits range from $15-$25, while professional testing services cost $150 and up. Several actions can be taken to correct high radon levels, including venting air from below a structure through a pipe to the air above, where it is quickly diluted. To learn more, visit www.radonweek.org.

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