Radon is a natural, radioactive gas created by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, second only to smoking, according to the EPA.
Other than increasing lung cancer risk, radon also increases the risk of developing emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, chronic interstitial pneumonia, silicosis (an inflammatory lung disease) and respiratory lesions.
According to the EPA, there is no safe level of radon in the home. Since that isn't possible to achieve, the next best option is to have the lowest level of exposure possible.
The EPA recommends that homes have less than 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of radon. Even if your home has a level less than 4 pCi/L, it can probably be reduced, which would lessen radon's negative effects.
Detecting Radon Levels
Testing for radon can be done with a home kit or by a professional radon tester. Home kits are either short-term or long-term. If your test result is 4 pCi/L or higher, the EPA recommends using either another short-term test or a long-term test to compare results.
Lowering Radon Levels
To lower radon, a home will need some modification. According to the EPA, the most common modification is to add a vent pipe system and a fan to pull radon below the house and vent it outside. Other methods include pressurization or foundation sealants.