Editorial: Test for radon, the invisible and odorless gas that's radioactive

Superman’s downfall was kryptonite; radon could be yours if you are not aware of it and don’t test for it in your home.

Radon is a radioactive gas that is invisible and odorless. It is a gas that comes up from the ground and, according to the state Health Department, is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Cancer is caused mainly by the radon that comes from decaying uranium and is found in rock, soil and water.

January is Radon Awareness Month. This is the time of year when health officials recommend that homes be checked for the gas.

Radon may enter homes from the surrounding soil and accumulate to harmful levels inside the building. And it may be in your home but not at the same level as at your next-door neighbor’s.

Test in the basement

Health officials recommend that testing be done in the basement of a home, where the highest results would be produced. Testing should be done at least every five to 10 years.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that homes with radon levels at 4.0 pCi/L or higher should be fixed. Radon exposure at any level poses some health risk. Homeowners should consider reducing radon levels that are greater than 2.0 pCi/L.

There are methods to remediate high radon levels, ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. And if radon is found in your home, then officials recommend that your water be tested for radon, as well. This is especially important in sections of Shelton where most people get their water from wells.

Testing kits are available

Testing for radon is not rocket science. Radon tests are available at hardware stores, may be purchased from the American Lung Association in Connecticut (800-LUNG-USA), or ordered online from National Radon Program Services at sosradon.org/test-kits.

If radon levels are high, a radon mitigation specialist is advised. The state Health Department has a list of qualified radon mitigation contractors. Visit the DPH Radon Program website at ct.gov/dph/radon or call 860-509-7367.