Silent Killer In Homes - How To Protect Yourself From Radon

By KBJR News 1

January 18, 2012 Updated Jan 18, 2012 at 7:42 PM CDT

Duluth, MN - (Northlands NewsCenter) - It's a silent killer that affects one -in - three homes in Minnesota... and claims the lives of 21-thousand Americans every year.

Radon gas impacts people nationwide...but by taking simple steps to test your home...this serious health hazard can be avoided.

It's a health threat of epidemic proportions...and you may not even know it's in your home.

"It is a serious health risk. It kills 21-thousand Americans a year...more than car accidents," says Director of Mission Programs for the American Lung Association, Pat McKone.

Radon is a naturally-occurring, invisible and odorless radioactive gas that leaves million of Americans unaware of the lurking danger in their homes.

"It happens because of a decay of uranium, which is in all the soil. That becomes radium, and radium decays and becomes radon. And this gas works its way up through the soil and into your homes," says Radon Gold Standard Outreach Coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Health, Tom Standke,

After being warned about the potential of high radon in homes in 2007...Duluth resident Jim Taylor decided to test his house...and was shocked by what he found.

"It was over six and then not knowing what the level was supposed to be, looking at it, the EPA says it needs to be under four. So I knew that I had a, what I thought, was a small radon problem in my basement," Taylor says.

The tests, like those Taylor did, take only minutes to set up...and could save your life.

Testing your home for radon is really simple. Make sure you have a test kit and fill out all the information on there before you use it. Place the sponge inside of it and hang it up for three days. Then as soon as you are done, take the sponge out, seal it up and make sure you send it in right away.

The EPA recommends taking action on your home if your results come back higher then four- Pico Curries.

"If it is above four-Pico Curries, then they recommend that you mitigate your home. And by mitigation, we're talking about getting the radon and removing it from the house," Standke says.

Which is exactly what Taylor did by installing a ventilation system.

"They just went out through the basin that every home has and they ran a PVC pipe up and went over and then went up my close-shoot and then went right out the ceiling and put a cap on it. So it was a relatively simple thing to do," Taylor says.

A simple thing that might have saved their lives.

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends every home in Minnesota be tested for Radon every 2-to-5 years.

Written for the web by Danyel Piecek.