HARRISBURG – The Department of Environmental Protection has reminded Pennsylvanians that January is National Radon Action Month.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally through the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks. It can seep into homes through cracks in basements and foundations and can build up inside to concentrations many times the recommended level.
“Elevated levels of radon affect nearly half of all Pennsylvania homes, but it is easily fixed,” DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. “Don’t allow your home or family to become a statistic. I’ve tested my home for radon. Test yours now.”
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Pennsylvania and causes about 20,000 lung-cancer deaths in the United States every year. Pennsylvania is particularly prone to elevated radon levels, with about 40 percent of homes in the state having radon levels above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action level of four picocuries per liter.
While radon problems may be more common in some regions of the state, the potential exists for any home in Pennsylvania to have high radon levels.
Testing for radon is the only way to know if a home or other structure has elevated levels of radon. DEP recommends testing all homes and public and private buildings. The best time to test is during the cold-weather months, when homes and buildings are closed and radon is most likely to build up to unhealthy levels.
Residents may hire a certified radon testing company, though it is easy to perform a radon test by using a kit that can be purchased at a home improvement store or a Pennsylvania-certified radon laboratory. Completed test kits should be sent to aPennsylvania-certified laboratory, where samples are analyzed. If results reveal radon levels above the action level, a radon mitigation system may be necessary.
Radon mitigation systems cost between $800 and $1,200 and require minimal maintenance. Most home or building owners choose to hire a radon mitigation professional to install the system.
Residents seeking more information about radon can stop by DEP’s exhibit at the Pennsylvania Farm Show on Jan. 5 from noon to 4 p.m. to talk to a radon professional with the department’s Bureau of Radiation Protection.
For more information about radon, including information on interpreting test results and finding a Pennsylvania-certified radon contractor, visit www.dep.state.pa.us, keyword: Radon, or call 1-800-23-RADON.