Radon is a radioactive gas which is produced from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rock. Radon gas can then enter a home through cracks in the foundation or other openings located throughout the structure.
Radon decays into radioactive particles, that when inhaled, can cause tissue damage including lung cancer. Radon is attributed to an estimated 21,000 deaths per year and is the second leading cause of lung cancer (leading cause of cancer among non-smokers). Not everyone exposed to elevated levels will develop cancer; however, a home with a high level of radon does pose a greater risk.
Logan County and much of Illinois is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a zone 1 or zone of highest potential for radon to be found at unsafe levels in the home. Regardless of the zone and where you live, radon can pose a potential threat to any home and just because your neighbor’s house tested at a safe level doesn’t mean your house will test safe. Radon is a hidden danger that may be lurking in your home and the only way to detect it is by having your home tested.
Testing Your Home
Although any level of radon in the home cannot be considered truly safe, radon levels of 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air) or greater meet the EPA action level (recommended level to take action). Testing your home can be inexpensive, easy to do, and done by using a home radon test kit which can be purchased at your local home improvement or hardware store.
If radon is detected at unsafe levels in your home, there are methods that can be used to remove radon. For additional information regarding radon and radon removal, you can visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website at http://www.epa.gov/radon/ and Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) at http://www.illinois.gov/iema/NRS/Radon/Pages/default.aspx.
If you have questions concerning radon, you can contact the LCDPH Division of Environmental Health at 217-735-2317.
Information Source: EPA, IEMA
Image Source: EPA (top), US Geological Survey Energy Resources Program (bottom)