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When it comes to staying healthy and trying to prevent lung cancer, eating well and avoiding smoking are excellent starting points. But did you know that testing your home for radon is another important step that can help protect you from this vicious disease?
Radon is a colourless, odorless and undetectable radioactive gas. It is created when uranium or other radioactive material decays and is released from rock formations, soil, and specific building materials. Even though we cannot see or feel it, it still affects us negatively. It is believed to cause more 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States and is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking.
When we breathe in radon gas, it exposes us to small amounts of radiation. According to the American Cancer Society, this can damage cells in the lining of the lungs and increase the risk of lung cancer. The risk is higher in those who have lived in a radon-contaminated home for a long time. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the combination of smoking and regular exposure to radon greatly increases someone’s risk to get lung cancer.
Toxic exposure is found nationwide, but is most likely to occur in northern, midwestern, and southwestern states. This is why testing your home is crucial. According to the EPAone in 15 homes in the United States contains high levels of radon.
Since your family’s health and safety are at stake, you’ll want to test your home using the best radon detector you can find.
How to find the best radon detector
The only way to know if you are exposed to this harmful substance is to get tested. If you are buying a new house, this may be requested during the inspection. Otherwise, you can hire a professional or buy a radon test kit from your local hardware store or online.
The EPA suggests that all homes below the third story be tested, even if they were built to be “radon resistant.” In short, do not deprive yourself of it.
The best radon detector won’t take long to install and use. Most instructions will require you to leave the short-term tests running for a number of days and then send them back to the lab for the results. Long-term test kits can give a more accurate assessment of average radon levels over the course of a year; these are left in place for three months or more.
Consumer radon detectors can be found easily online and our favorite is the Airthings Corentium Home Radon Detector. It runs on AAA batteries and has an outstanding 4.6 out of 5 star rating on Amazon from over 9,000 users. For less than $140 on sale at the time of this writing, it’s a bargain for the peace of mind of being able to monitor radon levels at all times.
How to reduce radon levels
The good news is that if your home’s levels are high, you can take steps to lower them. The most common method is to install a system of air ducts and a fan, which draw radon under the house and exhaust it outside.
Radon can hide in your water supply, although this poses a lesser risk than when it passes through the ground. Those with private wells should have them tested for radon to see if the water needs to be treated before it enters their home. If your water comes from a public water supply, you can contact your supplier for details.