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1/26/23 – What You Need to Know About Radon

Last updated: March 2, 2023

Hi, I’m Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the Health Officer for Anne Arundel County. Welcome to our Weekly Health Update. January is National Radon Action Month, so let’s talk about what you need to know about radon.

What is radon?
It’s a naturally occurring radioactive gas that’s invisible and odorless. It results from decay of other elements in the soil and works its way up through the ground and into the atmosphere.

Is radon dangerous?
Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer among smokers, after tobacco. The longer you’re exposed to radon, the greater risk you have of developing lung cancer.

How are people exposed to radon?
Because radon is produced in the ground, it’s present nearly everywhere. It moves through the soil and easily passes through small spaces in a foundation, such as cracks, drains or pipes and enters a building. It can be present in structures that are new or old, drafty or well-insulated. In buildings, if it builds up over time, it can reach harmful levels.

How do I know if I have been exposed to radon?
You can’t see, smell or taste radon, and it doesn’t cause any immediate symptoms. The only way to know your radon exposure is to test your home. While there’s no safe level of radon, the EPA recommends taking action if the level in your house is higher than 4 picocuries per liter.

Can I fix my home if it has radon?
Yes you can. If you have high levels of radon, you should find a contractor experienced in radon mitigation. You should look for contractors who are credentialed by the American Association of Radon Scientists & Technologists and are licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission.

How do I test my home for radon?
This January, the state is offering free radon testing kits to Maryland residents. You can request your free kit at Maryland.gov, and it’ll be shipped to you. You can also find testing kits at hardware and home improvement stores.

Stay safe and be kind to yourself and others. We’ll see you next week.

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