Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer. The Surgeon General and the EPA recommend testing for radon and reducing radon in homes that have high levels. Since it is difficult to identify any immediate symptoms related to radon exposure, it may take years before health problems appear. So, whether in the workplace, in homes, or in schools, understanding radon is important. This includes learning how radon gets into buildings, its health effects, and ways to reduce its levels.
The health department currently provides free short-term radon test kits to any individual upon request. To request a kit, visit our Environmental Health office at 650 Newtown Pike. Further questions or requests for information can be directed to: Barrett Schoeck at (859) 231-9791 ext. 4236 or BarrettC.Schoeck@ky.gov.
Having your home tested is the only effective way to determine whether you or your family is at risk of radon exposure. Steps you can take to reduce radon levels include
- Purchasing a radon test kit
- Testing your home or office
- Sending the kit to appropriate sources to determine radon levels
- Fixing your home if radon levels are high
Fix your home if your radon level is confirmed to be 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher. Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases may be reduced. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.
How does radon enter your home?
Radon is a gas that occurs naturally from the breakdown—or the radioactive decay—of uranium. Rocks, soil, and in some cases groundwater can all contain uranium. Because radon comes from so many sources, people are easily exposed to it. Exposure can occur through breathing outdoor air, in buildings and homes, and by eating or drinking (ingestion). Radon gas can seep through cracks in buildings and expose people to the radiation, which can lead to severe health problems. The EPA lists the following ways that radon can get into buildings:
- Cracks in solid floors and walls
- Construction joints
- Gaps in suspended floors
- Gaps around service pipes
- Cavities inside walls
- The water supply