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Radon usually exists as a gas. It is colorless, odorless, and radioactive. Usually radon is released by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil or rock. If a home or building is built on soil containing uranium, there is a risk that radon could enter through cracks and drains. The real danger occurs when radon becomes trapped inside and concentrations begin to build. Any home, regardless of age or construction, is at risk for radon gas buildup.
Breathing air that contains elevated radon levels has been linked to lung cancer. Radon gas is blamed for thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths annually. You face an even greater risk of lung cancer if your house contains radon gas and you smoke.
If you suspect that radon is a significant indoor air pollution threat in your home, you can start by measuring radon levels in your home. Relatively inexpensive do-it-yourself kits are available, but make sure you stick to kits that are state-certified or nationally approved. You can also hire a contractor to do the measurement for you. Reducing radon levels in your home will probably require that you hire a trained radon reduction contractor.
Another good move would be to stop smoking and discourage smoking in your home. Smoking can be a health risk by itself, but is much more dangerous when combined with high radon levels.
If your drinking water is supplied by your own well, it is possible that radon could be present in the water also. Well water should be tested for radon, and effective water filtration should be used if radon is present.