January is Radon Action Month. This is the time of the year experts recommend testing you home for this dangerous gas. You can’t see it, you can’t smell it, but you can test for it, and this month, health officials are even letting you test for free.
“Radon is a naturally occurring, cancer causing radioactive gas, and it comes from decaying uranium,” explained Scott Monforte, owner of Northeast Radon & Water Systems.
Radon is a natural, radioactive gas. It can get into homes through soil under the house; you can’t see or smell it.
Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Thousands of people die due to radon every year, and about one in 15 homes has a dangerously high level of radon.
Winter is the best time to test for radon, because it’s cold and the furnace is on. Hot air rises, and as the air rises inside your home, it pulls in air from outside and under the house.
Right now, many local health departments, are offering free test kits. The state also has a video explaining where to put the tests. A finished part of the basement is best. You leave the test there for a while, then send it to the lab. Radon is measured in “pico Curies,” and more than 4 per liter means you should get someone like Monforte to install a system to get rid of it.
“It goes in through the side of the house and down in to the floor slab,” Montforte said.
It’s a pipe with a fan. It’s not complicated, but it could be life saving, because experts like Monforte know radon can find a way to get into basements of houses that are old or even brand new.
“It can come from the foundation, come through the floor slab, it can come through cracks, it can come through the sump pump drain systems,” said Montforte.
So even a new, well kept house can still have radon. It’s less about the house than it is about the geology of the rocks underneath your house.