Check your home during January’s Radon Action MonthJanuary 14, 2019
Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that can be a serious health hazard among people who are constantly exposed. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., after smoking.
During January’s Radon Action Month, our Alaska Native people are encouraged to learn more about radon, which is formed through the decay of uranium beneath the earth’s surface. It escapes through soil and can seep into homes that are built directly on the ground, have basements, or have skirted crawlspaces. The Environmental Protection Agency has consistently ranked radon among the top four public environmental risks.
Radon is a radioactive gas. If you are exposed to radon and smoke, your risk for getting lung cancer is even higher. However, radon detection is possible and exposure is preventable.
Should I check for radon in my home?
Those affected by the November 2018 earthquake in Southcentral Alaska are encouraged to retest their homes for radon. The earthquake disturbed the ground and could have created new cracks and other pathways for radon to escape and enter homes.
For people in other areas in Alaska, testing will depend on how your home is built. Is your home built directly on top of the ground? Do you have a basement or skirt around the crawlspace beneath your home?
- Check for radon.
Is your home built on pilings? Is the space beneath your house uncovered?
- You do not need to check for radon.
How do I check for radon in my home?
Order a radon detection kit! You can choose between short-term (two to seven days) and long-term kits (two weeks to one year) and a continuous monitor.
Tips for testing:
- Follow the directions on your testing kit.
- Test during the winter season when homes are insulated and have less ventilation.
- Test on the lowest occupied level of your house.
- Retest every five years.
What can I do if I have radon?
If you do test positively for radon, seal all cracks in your floor and test again. If your home still tests positive, you may need to install a radon ventilation system. Installing a vapor barrier on the lowest level of your house is also an option. Seek professional advice for next steps if your home consistently test positive for radon (above 4 Pc/l).
For more information about radon or testing your home, contact the Alaska Radon Hotline at 1 (800) 478-8324. For more about radon health risks, visit the EPA’s website at https://www.epa.gov/radon.
To learn about indoor air quality, visit the ANTHC Air and Healthy Homes program at https://anthc.org/healthy-homes/.
Information from this article was provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and the University Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Services.