November 30, 2020

Radon: The Present Nobody Wants for the Holidays

December is a time of the year everyone can celebrate. Families come together to spend time huddled up watching holiday movies while drinking hot chocolate, neighbors greet each other with happiness even as Jack Frost is nipping at their noses.

But there is something far worse than the chilling cold that could be sitting in your house at this very moment. An invisible, odorless, and tasteless radioactive gas called radon that can take the happy out of your holidays.

How can radon be so harmful? It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and causes over 21,000 deaths each year. It is the number one cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers as well.

Radon can enter your home through a variety of ways, including through your foundation and even your well water. Sounds like something that can ruin your holiday spirit. Don’t worry, it is easy to test your home for radon and stop it before it becomes a problem.

How do you test for radon? Start with a short-term test kit. They are affordable and easy to use. You can buy a radon test kit at local retailers, or online from the UGA Radon Program’s website (www.UGAradon.org).

Kits are affordable with UGA offering each online kit purchase at $13 which includes shipping, analysis, and results.. Retailers may offer kits at a different price, but the purchase price may not cover analysis and sending you the results.

What happens once you have the kit? On the UGA Radon website you will find a video that explains how to test your home with a short-term radon test kit. If the radon level in your home is at, or above, 4 pCi/l, or picocuries per liter, you have high levels of radon. It is recommended that you test again with either a short-term (2-7 days) or long-term (3-12 months) device depending on the exact situation.

Long-term kits are more expensive and take longer to produce a result, but they are also more accurate. If the second result is still over 4 pCi/1 you should seek professional help and get your home mitigated. Mitigation is the technique used to remove radon from your home and should be done by a certified mitigator.

In Georgia there are no requirements for professional radon mitigators. The EPA Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction provides a checklist to help you select a qualified radon mitigator.

What if your neighbors are warm cozy and radon free? While it may seem like you’re fine if your neighbors’ houses have low radon levels, but you could still be at risk.

Radon levels vary from house to house, so even the house one snowball throw away has a radon level of 2 pCi/l, that doesn’t mean your house has a similar level. The only way to know the radon level in your home is to test. It is up to you to keep your family safe from radon and its damaging effects.

Are you going to let radon ruin the holiday spirit? Keep your family happy during the holidays and give the gift of a radon test. For more information go to www.UGAradon.org.

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