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Breathing Easy

Testing for radon could save your life

March 2024

(Graphic courtesy CertifiedEnviro.com)

Story courtesy of the American Lung Association

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer and a recent report reveals that it is detected at high levels in about 25% of homes in Virginia.

The American Lung Association in Virginia is urging everyone to help save lives by testing their home for radon and doing something about it if high levels are detected.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas emitted from the ground. Radon is odorless, tasteless and colorless, and can enter a home through cracks in floors, basement walls, foundations and other openings. Radon can be present at high levels inside homes, schools and other buildings. Nationally, it is responsible for an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year and is the leading cause of lung cancer in people who have never smoked.

In Virginia, about 25% of radon test results equal or exceed the Environmental Protection Agency action level of 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air), according to the Lung Association’s “State of Lung Cancer” report.

“Radon in homes is more common than you think,” says Kevin Stewart, director of environmental health for the lung association. “Radon exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Testing for radon is the only way to know if the air in your home is safe. The good news is that it is easy to test. Do-it-yourself test kits are simple to use and inexpensive.”

If high levels are detected, a radon professional should install a radon mitigation system, which is easy and relatively affordable. A typical radon mitigation system consists of a vent pipe, fan, and properly sealing cracks and other openings. This system collects radon gas from underneath the foundation and vents it to the outside.

To learn more, visit lung.org/radon-basics.