January Is National Radon Awareness Month

— Written By

Your home is your refuge. The place where you can relax, unwind and regroup, right? So, it would seem inconceivable that lurking in your home is a silent killer, like something out of a horror movie. But if radon is present in your home, you could be silently at risk for respiratory illnesses, including lung cancer.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is invisible, odorless, and tasteless. Radon is released harmlessly from the ground into outdoor air, but it can accumulate and reach harmful levels when trapped in homes and buildings. Scientists have long been concerned about the health risks of radon, but never before has there been such overwhelming proof that exposure to elevated levels of radon causes lung cancer in humans. Studies indicate that high levels of radon were present in the homes of non-smoking cancer patients as compared to the homes of healthy people.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon is responsible for more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Since radon does not have an odor and is invisible, people tend to downplay the health effects and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer within the walls of their home.

Some homes in this county have tested high for radon. Houses in the same neighborhood can have very different levels, so every home should be tested. Testing homes for radon is simple and inexpensive. Radon test kits can be purchased at local hardware and home improvement stores or directly from radon testing companies that can be found online. However, January is National Radon Action month and free home radon test kits from the NC Radon Program are available in your local Durham County Cooperative Extension office during the month of January. Find out if you are at risk for radon exposure this month by calling for your free home radon test kit. Contact Deborah McGiffin, Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences at the Durham County Cooperative Extension Service, 919-560-0521, to receive your free kit, or visit the NC Radon Program’s website at www.ncradon.org.