January is National Radon Action Month


Iowa has the highest percentage of homes scoring above a safe radon level with 71.6 percent of homes potentially at risk. That’s according to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). The high levels of radon in Iowa are the result of ancient glaciers that ground down granite rocks over time and deposited them in the form of soil.

Radon is a gas that occurs as the end product of radium decay. Radon poisoning occurs when large amounts enter the body and cause harmful physical changes. As a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas, radon is undetectable by human senses. Radon poisoning does not cause the same harmful, obvious symptoms as other radioactive substances. Instead, radon exposure can lead to the development of lung cancer.

Radon occurs throughout most environments in very small quantities. However, it can amass in buildings, particularly basements in homes. Radon accounts for the majority of most people's exposure to ionizing radiation.

Health effects

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer after smoking.

Radon tends to enter buildings at their lowest point. It often makes its way in through splits in foundations, cracks in walls, gaps around pipes, cavities inside walls and the water supply. The gas is likely to build up in poorly ventilated, airtight buildings.

Some estimate that 1 in 15 homes in the U.S. has elevated levels of radon. Radon test kits are widely available and generally cheap or even free.

Five Things You Can Do During National Radon Action Month

  1. Test your home - EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General recommend that all homes in the U.S. be tested for radon. Testing is easy and inexpensive.
  2. Spread the word
  3. Spend time during National Radon Action Month encouraging others to learn about radon and test their homes.
  4. Tell your family and friends about the health risk of radon. Encourage them to test their homes.
  5. View or order EPA's free radon publications.

(Information in this blog comes from the EPA and Medical News Today)