January is National Radon Action Month, an annual observance that focuses on increasing awareness of the health risk of radon, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer. In connection with this observance, the Village of Lombard encourages residents to check the radon levels of their homes in January or during the winter months.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas emitted from the ground that is odorless, tasteless and colorless. Radon can enter a home through cracks in walls, basement floors, foundations and other openings. Although radon gas is measurable everywhere, the highest readings are commonly found in the basement and first-floor levels of homes and apartments.
Below are 5 important things to know about radon:
- Radon-related lung cancers are responsible for an estimated 21,000 deaths annually in the United States.
- Smoking and radon exposure can separately increase the risk of lung cancer. However, if you smoke, exposure to both tobacco and radon enhances the risk of lung cancer even further.
- The only way to detect radon in your home is to test the air. EPA urges anyone with radon levels above 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) to take action to fix their homes. The EPA recommends that mitigation be considered if levels are greater than 2 pCi/L. After high levels are detected, a radon mitigation system should be installed by a radon professional.
- Radon testing should always be performed when buying a home and after building a new one.
- Professional radon mitigation should be a priority when high radon levels are detected. Under the Radon Industry Licensing Act, IEMA licenses radon measurement and mitigation professionals in Illinois. A list of professionals can be found at www.radon.illinois.gov.
For more information, visit www.epa.gov/radon.