Radon: A Silent Killer Can Lurk in Homes, MU Expert Says Test Now

Nov 08, 2007

It can’t be seen, felt or tasted and it is even odorless. That is why radon is called the silent killer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in the United States. A University of Missouri-Columbia expert says testing is quick and inexpensive and well worth the time and effort.

Radon is a radioactive gas that can seep into homes from the surrounding soil and can even contaminate well water, according to the EPA. The risk of developing lung cancer from radon depends on the radon level in a home and how much time is spent there.

“There is no myth behind it, you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, but it is there and it can make you sick,” said Michael Goldschmidt, MU Extension housing and environmental design specialist. “People who smoke in the home are twice as likely to get cancer from radon.”

Special detection kits are necessary to uncover a radon problem in a home. Short-term testing is the fastest way to determine if there is a potential problem, while long-term testing is the most accurate. Short-term kits can be purchased at hardware stores and be checked for results within 48 hours and give a good indication of the approximate radon level in a home.

“If you buy a home test kit from a store and the reading is low, you are okay; if it is high, it is time to have your home tested by a professional testing company,” Goldschmidt said.

There are simple solutions to reduce the radon level in homes. The average cost of installing a system to vent radon from a home is $1,200. According to the EPA, radon does not affect only a certain type of home. Home construction can affect radon levels; however, radon can be a problem in old homes, new homes, drafty homes, insulated homes and homes with or without basements. Local geology, construction materials and how the home was built are among the factors that can affect radon levels in homes.

“If there are a lot of cracks in the foundation, in the basement wall, basement slab, or if a home is a one story home on a concrete slab with cracks, there is a concern and there is more chance of radon becoming airborne and getting into the lungs of the occupants of the house,” said Goldschmidt, who also is an assistant professor of architectural studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

Radon naturally occurs in the soil and air around the soil. If people have neighbors with elevated levels of radon, that is an indicator that people around them need to test as well.

Source: University of Missouri

Explore further: Water forms common thread in diverse rainforest ecosystems

Related Stories

Boron-based atomic clusters mimic rare-earth metals

23 minutes ago

Rare Earth elements, found in the f-block of the periodic table, have particular magnetic and optical properties that make them valuable commodities. This has been particularly true over the last thirty years ...

Roadkill hot spots identified in California

43 minutes ago

An interactive map shows how California's state highway system is strewn with roadkill "hot spots," which are identified in a newly released report by the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Da ...

Taiwan factory workers win $18 mn over cancer deaths

51 minutes ago

Workers from a factory in Taiwan which leeched toxic chemicals they say resulted in 200 deaths from cancer and more than 1,000 other cases of the disease won a Tw$564.45 million ($18 million) payout from US electronics company ...

Recommended for you

Deathly effect of heatwaves ignored

2 hours ago

Heat is an emerging problem in Sydney, but despite having its strongest effects on the poor, the elderly, the disabled and the very young, most community services don't formally cater for the impact of heatwaves ...

Siberia wildfire toll rises to 34

2 hours ago

Raging wildfires in recent weeks killed 34 people, the emergencies minister said Tuesday in a new toll as President Vladimir Putin visited the stricken region.

Rising carbon dioxide levels stunt sea shell growth

3 hours ago

Scientists have discovered that stunted growth can be a genetic response to ocean acidification, enabling some sea creatures to survive high carbon dioxide levels, both in the future and during past mass ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

seppuku
not rated yet Nov 09, 2007
nice advertising :) Have you thought about the implications of Radon infecting livestock and then entering our entire foodchain? :D Farms should be moved in space. We should ALL get tested. In fact i think iranians are to blame for this :D....silly article
Merak
not rated yet Nov 09, 2007
I live in an area with high levels of radon. Had the basement tested and a radon venting system installed. Works well, Don't put your head in the sand, get it checked if your area is affected. We had neighbors who didn't smoke die of lung cancer.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.