January is National Radon Action Month. How much time are you spending in your home? This pandemic has caused us all spend more and more time in our homes then we had originally planned. Many of the things we do like working, exercising, and eating are now taking place in the comfort of our homes. But with all of this time inside comes some environmental health risks that many families may overlook.
Since January is National Radon Action Month, it is a perfect time to get your home tested for radon. More time in your home means a higher chance of coming into contact with radon. Radon is the second leading cause for lung cancer, and is a colorless, odorless gas that is found everywhere. When in trace amounts outside, radon can be harmless because it is easily dispersed, but it can be deadly in larger amounts when inside buildings because of its high radioactivity. Most people are exposed to the highest amount of radon inside their homes, as radon can easily move up from soil into the air through cracks and gaps inside foundation.
Getting your home checked for radon is simple and inexpensive! Inside homes and buildings, gaps and cracks can be sealed with plaster or caulk to prevent radon leaks. Many states also have qualified contractors who know how to seal foundation and prevent radon from escaping. Also, increasing ventilation inside homes by using fans, opening windows, or adding vents can help reduce overall radon levels. Perhaps the best way to deal with radon inside homes and buildings is to test for it. Tests are inexpensive, easy to find, and only take a few minutes to set up. Most kits require a small device to be put in a room for a period of a few days to up to 3 months. Some longer tests can be put for a much lengthier period of time and are more precise.
Testing for radon is easily accessible and very important since we are now spending so much time in our homes. Especially in the winter, with no windows open or fresh air circulation, we are all at a much greater risk for radon poisoning then we were before the pandemic. In fact, in November, University of Calgary studied 100 homes to see whether increased time at home due to the pandemic has led to higher exposure of radon. Early results have shown a 35% increase of annual radon exposure in homes that were surveyed. Though not many studies have been done since this is new for all of us, we can draw the connection between time spent inside to radon exposures.