The Risks of Radon

by Chris Bjorklund

Major health organizations agree that radon causes many preventable lung cancer deaths every year. Radon is an odorless radioactive gas that comes from the uranium in rock, water and soil, and it’s especially dangerous for people who smoke. It can be found in every part of the United States and in any type of building, but elevated radon levels in your home are the greatest concern.

Radon levels can vary from home to home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the best way to tell if your home has a radon problem is to perform a short-term test. Low-cost, do-it-yourself radon test kits are available at hardware stores or through mail order. Short-term tests last anywhere from two to 90 days, depending on the device you’re using. The EPA’s website ( has a “Citizen’s Guide to Radon” that will answer most of your questions about radon.