January is National Radon Action Month. The aim of National Radon Action Month is to increase the public's awareness of radon, promote radon testing and mitigation, and advance the use of radon-resistant new construction practices.
The Middletown Health Department and Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) are providing Middletown homeowners with a radon testing device free-of-charge to screen for radon exposure at home. Radon is an invisible gas that we cannot see, taste, or smell. Exposure to an elevated radon level (4.0 Pi/cl or higher) for a prolonged period of time is known to increase risk for lung cancer. Screening is the first step in reducing harm from radon at home.
What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas released in rock, soil, and water formed from the breakdown of uranium. Levels in outdoor air pose a low threat to human health. However, radon can center homes from surrounding soil and become a health hazard inside buildings. Radon does not cause symptoms. You can't see it or smell it, but an elevated radon level in your home may be affecting the health of your family.
Breathing radon over prolonged periods may damage lung tissue. Exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon causes more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the country each year. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has radon, your risk of developing lung cancer can be much higher.
Where is Radon found?
Radon has been found in elevated levels in homes in every state. High radon concentrations can occur sporadically in all parts of Connecticut. Two homes right next to each other can have different radon levels. Just because your neighbor's house doesn't have an elevated level of radon does not mean that your house will also have a low radon level. The ONLY way to know if you have an elevated radon level above the EPA action level of 4.0 Pi/cl is to test your home's indoor air.
High levels of radon in homes usually come from the surrounding soil. Radon gas is drawn into a house through foundation cracks and openings, such as sump pump pits and plumbing features, on the lower levels of your home. Radon may also be found in your water supply if your home is served by a private well. For more information on radon in water, read the Connecticut Department of Public Health's "Radon in Your Well Water" fact sheet.