Image source: wesa.fm Pittsburgh

To recognize National Radon Action Month, Pennsylvanians are being urged to do a simple home test for radon. This invisible, odorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Radon occurs from the breakdown of uranium in the ground. It enters homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings.

“Because of Pennsylvania’s geology, there are high radon levels in locations around the state, putting residents at risk of exposure,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Fortunately, it’s simple to determine the radon level in your home using an inexpensive test.”

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Left to right: Dingman-Delaware Middle School teacher Jessica Devine Gregorski and students Anya Norwood, Brandon Maros-Moran, and Youngeun Eunice Choi. Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Middle school students in Pike County, including Brandon Maros-Moran, Youngeun Eunice Choi, and Anya Norwood, earned the top three places in a statewide radon education school poster contest conducted this fall by DEP. Their posters will help DEP’s effort to educate Pennsylvanians on the importance of radon home testing.

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The three winning radon awareness posters made by PA middle school students in Pike County. Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

“Radon is a leading cause of lung cancer in Pennsylvania,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Since we know that radon is prevalent in many homes across Pennsylvania, it is essential to get your home tested. It is a simple step you can take to protect your family’s health.”

Testing is easy. Buy a test canister at a hardware or home improvement store for about $25, or hire a state-certified testing company. Because radon levels are often highest in the basement, placing your test there is a good idea. Simply open the canister, let it sit open for a few days, then close it up and mail it to the laboratory indicated on the label. Winter is a good time to test because doors and windows are closed, providing more accurate results.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies four picocuries of radon per liter of air as the action level for radon. If your home’s radon level is higher, EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General recommend having a radon reduction system, with a pipe and exhaust fan, professionally installed to vent the gas outside.

The cost is generally in line with other home improvements, such as replacing a water heater. Having a radon reduction system installed makes the future sale of a home easier, too.

January is National Radon Action Month. DEP is posting radon tips on Facebook and Twitter and airing a public service announcement on TV and radio throughout the month.

This story was compiled from information supplied to us and not written by a particular staff writer. To see a list of our editorial staff please go to our Staff directory.