Radon in the Home

Over 40,000 people in the United States and Europe die each year from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon gas.

Most of these people are exposed to radon in the home. And yet, the majority of them are unaware of the health risks posed by radon, unaware that their home has dangerously elevated levels of radon, and, probably, unaware of what radon even is.

Part of the fault lies with governments and health organizations, which have failed to respond appropriately to so many deaths. Information about radon gas is not as widespread as it should be (although the situation is improving). But, part of the problem lies also with the homeowner: it's your home and your health. Educate yourself!

Because you can't see, smell, or taste radon, in order to find out whether or not it's in your home—and how much of it there is—you have to test for it. Tests are cheap and easy to administer. They're available online, even from sites like Amazon.

Finding out whether there is an elevated radon concentration in your home is your responsibility. Why? Because shirking this responsibility will hurt only you.

Car accidents close roads, slow down the flow of business; airborne diseases can affect anyone; and guns pose a physical threat to the government. Hence, there are initiatives to cut down on these problems.

With radon, it hurts only you. And, as callous as it sounds, it's more profitable for health care providers to treat you when get lung cancer than to prevent it in the first place.

So, take charge: call the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or an equivalent in your country, get the proper information, test your home, and take appropriate action. Simply because no one's actively helping you, doesn't mean they're actively trying to stop you. The truth is, they just don't care.

So: you care.

What are safe radon levels?

Unfortunately, we're not sure. On one hand, since radon doesn't have any health benefits, the ideal safe radon level is zero: no radon exposure. On the other hand, there are levels under which exposure to radon, while not good, is rather negligible.

What is this boundary between negligible and harmful or lung cancer causing?

That depends on which experts you ask!

In the United States, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems the limit, expressed as maximum exposure per year, to be 148 Bq/m^3.

In Britain, and across the European Union, the limit is slightly higher: 200 Bq/m^3.

While, in Canada, the dividing line between safe and harmful is much higher. Canadians, according to Health Canada, are safe unless they're exposed to more than 800 Bq/m^3!

In other words, we don't quite know what the magic number is. Or if there even is one.

But, erring on the side of caution—in this case the US number—seems like the sensible thing to do, whether you're in the US, Britain or Canada. It's your health, after all.

Radon Test Kits on Amazon

Some people don't know where to look for radon test kits. Hence, they don't test their homes. Because radon awareness is such a low priority, most us of don't realize that the kits are even available at the same online spot we buy DVDs and books: Amazon.

Amazon's stock of radon test kits includes:

I'm not sure how good any of these are because I haven't used them, but the important thing is that they're available at the click of a button. It's important to at least be aware of that.

Free Radon Test Kit in Texas

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is now offering free short term radon test kits for state residents.

According to the US Enivornmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon levels in Texas are quite low, and only a few areas have even a "moderate radon potential". But, you sure can't beat free. I mean, even the envelope you get with the kit to send in your test for interpretation of results has it's postage paid!

There's really no reason not to get and use the test kit.

So, if you're a Texan, contact the DSHS for more information. Their free phone number is 1-800-293-0753. Or, you can email them.