You cannot see, feel, smell, or taste radon. Testing your home is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General recommend testing for radon in all rooms below the third floor. You can hire a trained professional like J&B Discovery Inspections to test your home for radon.
Almost all risk from radon comes from breathing air with radon and its decay products. Radon decay products cause lung cancer.
There is no safe level of radon -- any exposure poses some risk of cancer. In two 1999 reports, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded after an exhaustive review that radon in indoor air is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after cigarette smoking. The NAS estimated that 15,000-22,000 Americans die every year from radon-related lung cancer.
The first step is to test your home for radon, and have it fixed if it is at or above EPA's Action Level of 4 picocuries per liter. You may want to take action if the levels are in the range of 2-4 picocuries per liter. Generally, levels can be brought below 2 pCi/l fairly simply.
The best method for reducing radon in your home will depend on how radon enters your home and the design of your home. For example, sealing cracks in floors and walls may help to reduce radon. There are also systems that remove radon from the crawl space or from beneath the concrete floor or basement slab that are effective at keeping radon from entering your home. These systems are simple and don't require major changes to your home. Other methods may be necessary.
People who have private wells should test their well water to ensure that radon levels meet EPA's newly-proposed standard.
For more information, visit the EPA's radon website. The above information is provided as a public service by the Environmental Protection Agency for educational purposes.