January is National Radon Action Month. Last week, Secretary Chris Abruzzo of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) reminded residents of Pennsylvania that “elevated levels of radon affect nearly half of all Pennsylvania homes.” Pennsylvania as a whole is particularly prone to elevated radon levels. In light of this, the PA DEP encourages Pennsylvania residents to have their homes and businesses tested for elevated levels of radon.
The PA DEP also urges Pennsylvania residents to be aware of the risks that radon poses. Radon is a natural, radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It can enter homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings such as holes or pipes. In a News Release on the subject, the PA DEP notes that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Pennsylvania, and that it causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States as a whole.
Given these staggering numbers, U.S. EPA slogan “Test, Fix, Save a Life” is appropriate to remind Americans to test and prevent exposure to radon.
The U.S. EPA recommends the following:
Test: All homes with or without basements should be tested for radon. Affordable Do-It-Yourself radon test kits are available online and at home improvement and hardware
stores, or you can hire a qualified radon tester.
Fix: EPA recommends taking action to fix radon levels at or above 4
picoCuries per Liter (pCi/L) and contacting a qualified radon-reduction
contractor. In most cases, a system with a vent pipe and fan is used to reduce
radon. Addressing high radon levels often costs the same as other minor home
Save a Life: 21,000 Americans die from radon related lung cancer each year.
By fixing elevated levels in your home, you can help prevent lung cancer while
creating a healthier home for you and your family.
Pennsylvania has a number of different resources for those who seek more information about radon. PA residents can call 1-800-23-RADON or visit www.dep.state.pa.us, keyword: radon.
For those outside of Pennsylvania, more information on how to test, find a qualified radon professional, obtain a test kit or contact your state radon office is available at http://www.epa.gov/radon or by calling 1-800-SOS-RADON.
For more information about federal regulations for radon testing and mitigation, see the article that was featured in our October, 2013 news letter: NEW Radon Federal Testing & Mitigation Requirements Effective 6/4/2013 (HUD-Notice H 2013-3) (NOTICE PIH 2013-06)