Home & Garden

Radon test kits are easy-to-use, potentially life-saving

January is National Radon Protection Month, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Radon gas appears in the air you breathe no matter where you live on the planet. It is radioactive and comes from the decay of uranium in the soils. Radon can lead to lung cancer, is responsible for more than 20,000 deaths each year and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. with the smoking of tobacco products being number one.

A simple test kit, available online or at major home stores, can be a lifesaver. First Alert’s Radon Test Kit is available for less than $20. Once the homeowner is aware of the rate of radon in the home, it is fairly simple to remove the gas by removing the air from under the home’s foundation and expelling it to the outside air using PVC pipes and a radon fan.

Many newer homes are being constructed with the PVC pipe already in place with the hope the radon gas will escape the home naturally without the use of a fan, but that does not always solve the problem. In a few instances, a radon fan has to be added because the radon levels in the soils are too great to be removed naturally.

The question has often been asked, “Do you think my home has radon?” and the answer is definitely, “Yes.” Kits can be ordered online by searching “radon test kits” or in some states the kits are available for free, but be aware there is a charge for the laboratory to process the kits and produce a report once the kits have been exposed to the home’s environment. Fees are usually under $40.

C. Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Send home improvement questions to d.Barnett@insightbb.com or C. Dwight Barnett, Evansville Courier & Press, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, Ind. 47702.