Winter is the Best Time to Test for Radon.
The month of January has been designated as Radon Action Month by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking, and it is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon is estimated to be responsible for more than 21,000 deaths from lung cancer in the US each year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. Smokers exposed to radon have a much higher risk for developing lung cancer than smokers who are not exposed.
Radon is present at elevated levels in about one of every five Connecticut homes. Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless, radioactive gas that is normally harmlessly dispersed in outdoor air but can reach harmful levels when it enters and gets trapped in buildings, particularly in the winter months when homes and other buildings are closed up. Radon comes from the ground and can enter a home through small cracks and other openings in the foundation. Dissolved radon can occur naturally in groundwater and may be aerosolized into the air within a home serviced by well water when running faucets, showers, dishwashers or a washing machine. If radon is already present at elevated levels in the air, the addition of the aerosolized radon from a faucet could cause the radon action level in the home to be exceeded. Distribution water (“town water”) from Aquarion does not contain radon.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends radon abatement measures to be undertaken if radon in air levels exceed 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Even if the radon test level is below the action level of 4.0 pCi/L, homeowners should consider testing again sometime in the future as radon levels can fluctuate. Retesting is particularly important if construction work has been done, since it may have disturbed the soil around the home or created cracks in the foundation which could provide an entry point for radon. For radon in well water, the State of Connecticut has set an action level of 5,000 pCi/L and recommends that all wells be tested for radon at least once, and ideally every five years.
For more information on radon, radon testing and radon mitigation, call your local Department of Heath.