Radon in your home – the silent killerWhat is the most deadly silent killer in the home? Most people would respond to this question by pointing to carbon monoxide since tragic carbon monoxide death captures headlines.
Editor’s note: The following information was provided by Douglas and Pope Counties Environmental Health.
What is the most deadly silent killer in the home? Most people would respond to this question by pointing to carbon monoxide since tragic carbon monoxide death captures headlines. Accidental carbon monoxide deaths in the home are also tracked by the Centers for Disease Control, which reports that carbon monoxide causes about 300 deaths per year in the United States.
But what other silent killer is found in homes, which results in 70 times more accidental deaths than carbon monoxide? The short answer is radon, according to William J. Angell, professor of housing at the University of Minnesota.
Angell notes that about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year are the result of exposure to radon in U.S. homes, according to risk assessments conducted by the National Academies of Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Radon is a naturally occurring gas from the breakdown of uranium in the soil. The radon seeps into homes through cracks in the foundation, slab joints, porous cinder blocks, sump pump pits and through wells and connecting pipes.
Angell cites the lifetime risk of dying from indoor radon is about one in 50 if elevated concentrations of radon are present in a home.
This time of year is ideal for radon testing since there is less of a chance of accidentally getting an artificially low test result. Short-term radon test devices are only $5 and are available at Douglas County Public Health.
If test results are elevated, the property owner should take action to reduce radon concentrations. The cost of remediation is similar to other home maintenance expenses such as installing an energy efficient water heater.
If you are buying a home, it is very important to have a radon measurement professional test the home prior to completing the purchase agreement. If you are building a new home, it is very important to incorporate effective radon control systems (also known as radon resistant new construction standards) and to test the home when it is completed.
For more information regarding radon, radon testing, mitigation and radon resistant new construction, contact Todd Appel, registered sanitarian for Douglas and Pope Counties Environmental Health at (320) 763-4437.