Surprisingly, it is the prolonged exposure to radon gas. According to the National Institutes of Health, 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year can be attributed to this toxic gas.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas originating from the breakdown of uranium in the earth. The natural breakdown of rock and soil releases radon gas, which can invade homes through cracks and sump pump openings in basement foundations. From there, the gas can be inhaled.
Both existing and newly constructed homes have the potential to harbor high radon levels. There are ways to protect your family or tenants and restore peace of mind. Radon test kits are available at home improvement stores at a reasonable price. If radon levels test high — four picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or more — then you should take steps to reduce radon levels.
The most common method is to install a radon remediation system, which acts as a vacuum, sucking out the hazardous gases and releasing the vapors outside and away from living quarters. Most systems can be installed by homeowners or professionals certified in radon remediation for around $500-$1,000.
Even with a radon system, homeowners will still want to conduct a radon test every few years to verify the device is working properly.
Find tips on choosing a radon remediation system or contractor in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction.”