Knowing the radon level in your home is an important step in reducing your risk of cancer. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, responsible for approximately 21,000 deaths each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Radon is an odorless, colorless gas found in earth and rock beneath homes, well water, and building materials. It is created by the natural decay of uranium in the soil and seeps up through the ground as a gas that gets trapped in the home.
Iowans are especially at risk for radon exposure because of naturally occurring high concentrations in the state. What's more, said R. William Field, PhD, associate professor of occupational and environmental health in the UI College of Public Health, there is a seasonal component to the risk of radon exposure.
"With elevated levels of radon and more people spending time inside during the winter in Iowa, there is very high risk of increased exposure," Field said. "Every home should be tested because one home could have a low reading and their next door neighbor could have a very high reading. The only way to know is to test."
Testing for radon in your home is easy and inexpensive. Test kits available online, through the mail, or in local hardware stores cost as little as $4, and have everything you need to determine your home's radon level.
Find out what level of radon is in your home:
- Test your home using a short-term and a long-term test. Radon amounts can change month to month, so make sure to do both types of tests.
- Do not rely on your neighbors’ results. Results can vary from house to house.
- Always test all floors of your home-not just your basement!
- Test kits are available through the mail and local hardware stores.
- Short term radon test kits are available for Iowa residents by mail for $6 and by pick-up for $4. For more information contact the Iowa Air Coalition at 800-206-7818.
The EPA recommends that homes be fixed if the radon levels are 4 pCi/L or greater. Homes can be fixed by installing radon reduction systems that, in many cases, can reduce radon levels by as much as 99 percent.