Radon Testing: What You Should Know

Medically Reviewed

Now is a good time to test your home for radon, an odorless radioactive gas released from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. January is National Radon Action Month, as designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A threat to your lungs

Regularly breathing in radon can cause lung cancer because radon exposure is the second leading cause of the disease after smoking.

The EPA estimates that one in 15 homes have high levels of radon, including those without basements. Office buildings and schools can also harbor high levels of the gas. Radon can get into your home through cracks in floors and walls, gaps in suspended floors and around service pipes, cavities inside walls, construction joints, and the water supply.

Radon testing is easy and inexpensive; you can get a radon test kit online, at a hardware store, or from your state radon program, usually for under $25. Typically, testing involves opening a package, placing it in a certain area of your home for two to seven days, and then mailing it to the manufacturer for analysis.

You can also hire a qualified radon tester. If high levels are found, a special contractor can reduce radon to acceptable levels. (Costs vary depending on the extent of the problem and your home’s structure but tend to be about the same as other common home repairs.)

For more information about radon testing, you can get a copy of the EPA’s free publication, A Citizen’s Guide to Radon: The Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Radon.

Read more about how to prevent lung cancer and what symptoms to look for..