Anne Sadler: What you don’t know can hurt you

Back in September 2014, I wrote a column about radon. At that time, most people had never heard of radon unless they had bought or sold a home recently and were asked if they wanted a radon test done. Even then, most people didn't really know what the big deal was. I recently attended a training session on radon and even though I knew what radon was and the potential health threat it caused, I was surprised at how much I had underestimated the dangers of radon.

What is radon anyway? Radon is a colorless, tasteless, odorless radioactive gas that comes from uranium in the soil. Radon enters your home through openings between your house and the soil underneath. It doesn't matter if you have a basement, a crawl space or even a concrete slab, the only way to tell if you have a radon problem in your home is to test for it.

Why should you worry about testing your home for radon? Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It is estimated that over 1,100 people in Illinois will develop radon related lung cancer every year. Elevated levels of radon have been found throughout Illinois and we are located in the "high potential" area of the state. Think about how much time you spend in your home, how much time your children spend in your home and the possibility that the radon level in your home could potentially be causing cancer. I can't urge you strongly enough to get your home tested. What you don't know can be killing you.

Homeowners can purchase test kits to test their own homes and they are very inexpensive. The kits are available at home improvement and hardware stores and the county health department or visit the website at for a list of places that sell radon test kits. You can also hire a licensed radon tester to do the test if you don't want to do it yourself, or if you don't live in the property yourself. The radon level must be below 4.0 picocuries per liter of air before mitigation is needed, however, there is no safe level of radon.

Mitigation must be done by a licensed mitigator and it must not be the same person that performed the radon test. A mitigator will install the proper equipment necessary in your home to draw the radon out and reduce the danger from radon exposure. The mitigation can cost between $800-$1,500 depending on the system used but that is a small price to pay to prevent the cancer risk to your family. Even with a mitigation system installed, you should still test every couple of years to make sure it is working properly.

Photo Source: http://National Radon Program Services

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