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How to Protect Your Home from Radon This Winter

blog-default Winter is a busy time of year for many people. There are the holidays to prepare for, the home repairs to complete before the frost sets in and the winter safety tips to adhere to. Among all of this activity, it can be easy to overlook certain factors that may impact the safety of your home. For example, have you taken a moment to consider whether your family is at risk of excess radon exposure? What is radon? Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that can cause cancer. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General has named radon as the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in America. Having high levels of radon in your home is dangerous, and it's even more worrisome during the winter months when your family spends more time indoors. Where does it come from? Radon is a byproduct of the natural breakdown of uranium, which is located in soil, rocks and water. It's found all over the U.S. and can get into your home through cracks, construction joints, gaps and the water supply. The rising gas can get trapped in your house and increase the levels in the air, which is a serious hazard. Radon levels greater than 4 picocuries per liter, or pCi/L, are considered dangerous, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 1 in 15 homes have high levels. How can you test for it? There are several ways that you can test your home to see if your radon levels are too high. Hardware stores and other retailers sell do-it-yourself testing kits that are quick and easy to use. Or, you can hire a professional to do the job for you. There are short-term tests and long-term tests, which use various methods to detect radon levels over a certain period of time. What if your levels are too high? If your home tests high for radon, don't worry - there are ways to fix the problem. There are several radon reduction systems on the market that can greatly reduce the amount of radon in your home and improve the quality of your house's air. Sealing cracks, joints and gaps in your home's construction can make the systems more effective. If you're not sure how to do this yourself, contact a professional who can set it up and walk you through the process.