Radon. It's odorless, invisible and it could be lurking in your home right now. Richard Adams was surprised when an inspector suggested he test his Tiverton, Rhode Island home for Radon, radioactive gas that seeps into homes from the soil. He was even more surprised when he got the results. "The test results came back. And they weren't good," says Richard.
He's not alone, in fact it's estimated one in fifteen houses may have high levels of radon in the US. Certain counties of Massachusetts tested especially high. And long term exposure to the radioactive gas is a leading cause of lung cancer. "About 20,000 of the cases of lung cancer in the us are caused by radon," says Bruce Johnson of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Even if you don't smoke, doctor's say you could be at risk, and if you do smoke, that risk is doubled. "There's an interaction between the radon that you breathe in your home and being exposed to cigarette smoke. The two working together are worse than each individual," says Bruce.
Testing your home for radon is easy and inexpensive. The problem is, most people don't know they're supposed to do it. "It's an invisible gas so you don't really give it much thought. But it is a serious concern and we would certainly encourage people to do testing on their own homes," says Michael Quinn of US Inspect. Home tests can be bought online or in home improvement stores. Just open the canisters and leave them in the basement for 48 hours, while keeping all windows closed, then send the canisters to a lab to find out your levels.