Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that occurs from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil. Unfortunately, radon is radioactive and its decaying byproducts can emit toxic particles if inhaled. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General has said radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer deaths.
Radon concentrations can be found in areas with rocks that contain uranium, granite, shale or phosphates and can also be released from soils contaminated with some industrial wastes. While natural radon gas in the open air is so minimal it doesn't pose a health risk, concentrations in confined spaces can become a health hazard.
It's possible for radon gas to enter your home through several ways:
Typically, less than one-tenth of one percent of all homes have radon gas emissions that exceed recommended healthy levels. However, health authorities recommend all homes be tested below the third floor.
Commercial services are available to homeowners to measure radon levels in residences. A more immediate and less costly approach is to purchase a home radon testing kit. There are short term detectors that measure radon levels over a two to seven day period or long term detectors that can measure radon from 90 days to a year. There are a variety of radon testing kits available for as little as $15, though you will need to send the results to a lab for analysis (which is often included the purchase price). No matter what type you choose, you need to make sure that the test kit meets EPA requirements and mail the test to the lab immediate upon completion otherwise you may end up with an inaccurate result.
For more information on radon testing options for the home, check out some of the links at the top of this page.this page.