Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas.
You can't see radon, you can't smell it or taste it, but it may be a problem in your home. Radon is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. That's 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 in the U.S. today.
Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. So, if you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is even higher.
Radon can be found all over the U.S.
Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. It can be found all over the U.S. It can get into any type of building - homes, offices, and schools - and result in a high indoor radon levels. You’re most likely to get your greatest exposure at home where you spend most of your time.
You should test for radon.
Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. EPA also recommends testing in schools. Testing is inexpensive and easy — it should only take a few minutes of your time. Millions of Americans have already tested their homes for radon. See the ―how to test your home‖ below for information on testing your home.
How does radon get into your home?
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural decay of uranium, 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, old or new homes, well-sealed or drafty homes, even homes with or without basements. Radon from soil gas is the main cause of radon problems but sometimes it enters through well water. In some homes, the building materials can give off radon, however, building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves.
It gets into your home through 1) cracks in solid floors, 2) construction joints, 3) cracks in walls, 4) gaps in suspended floors, 5) gaps around service pipes, 6) cavities inside walls, or 7) the water supply.
Radon in Water
There are two main sources for the radon in your home's indoor air, soil and water supply. Radon entering your home through the soil is usually a much larger risk, however radon in your water supply does pose an inhalation and ingestion risk. Most of your risk from water comes from that released into the air when water is used for showering and other household purposes.
Radon in your home's water is not usually a problem when its source is surface water. A radon in water problem is more likely from ground water whether from a public water supply or private well. If your water comes from a public water supply, contact your water supplier, if you have a private well that supplies your home, you may want to test that supply for radon. If found, radon in water can be treated effectively treated in two ways.
How to Test Your Home
Even though radon can’t be seen, it’s not hard to test your home to find out if you have a radon problem. Testing is easy and should only take a few minutes of your time.
The amount of radon in the air is measured in "picocuries per liter of air," or "pCi/L". There are many low-cost "do-it-yourself" radon test kits you can get through the mail and in some hardware stores and other retail outlets. If you prefer, or if you are buying or selling a home, you can hire a qualified tester to do the testing for you. You should first contact your state radon office about obtaining a list of qualified testers. You can also contact a private radon proficiency program for lists of privately certified radon professionals serving your area. For links and information, visit www.epa.gov/radon/radontest.html.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment Bureau of Environmental Health manages the Kansas Radon Program. For more information check out their website at www.kdheks.gov/radiation/radon.htm or contact the state office at 1-800-693-5343 or 785-296-4359