Radon is a gas that is a product of the breakdown of uranium in soil and rock. It also may be in water, natural gas, and building materials. High levels of radon are in homes in many regions of the United States.
It makes its way into homes through cracks or openings in the foundation, walls, and floors, or occasionally in well water. It does not cause health problems immediately upon inhalation. Over time, however, it can increase the risk of lung cancer. In fact, next to cigarette smoking, radon is thought to be the most common cause of lung cancer in the United States.
To reduce your child’s risk of radon exposure:
- Ask your pediatrician or the local health department whether radon levels are high in your community.
- Have your home tested for radon, using an inexpensive radon detector. (Hardware stores sell these detectors.) A certified laboratory should analyze the results of thistest.
- If the levels are too high in your home, call the Radon Hotline (operated by the National Safety Council in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency) at 1–800–767–7236; this is also a good resource for information on reducing the radon risk in your home.