January is National Radon Action Month. The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness wants you to know the dangers of radon and encourages you to test your home. The department is offering free radon test kits while the supply lasts. You can request a kit online here or by calling 574-6650.
Radon is a gas that you cannot smell, taste or see. It forms naturally when uranium, radium and thorium break down in rocks, soil and groundwater. People can be exposed to radon primarily from breathing radon in air that comes in through cracks and gaps in homes and other buildings. Radon can cause lung cancer through prolonged exposure. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, behind smoking, and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, causing between 15,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths each year.
The entire state of Kentucky is at high risk for radon exposure with about 40 percent of homes estimated to have unsafe levels. The only way to know if radon exists at dangerous levels in your home is to test for it.
The lung cancer risk factors of tobacco smoke and radon are related. More radon-related lung cancers occur in individuals with a history of exposure to tobacco smoke. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.
Tips to help prevent radon in your home:
- Stop smoking and discourage smoking in your home.
Smoking significantly increases the risk of lung cancer from radon. Second-hand smoking in the home is also a leading cause of Sudden Infant Death (SIDS).
- Increase airflow in your house by opening windows and using fans and vents to circulate air.
- Seal cracks in floors and walls with plaster, caulk, or other materials designed for this purpose.
- Seek a qualified contractor to help remove the radon from your home.
Mitigation costs generally range from $1,200 to $2,500 depending on the size and foundation of the home. Consult the Kentucky Association of Radon Professionals or the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists National Radon Proficiency Program to locate approved contractors near you.