When Eddie Metcalfe got a CAT scan to check for kidney stones, doctors found something much more troubling: lung cancer. “I hadn’t smoked in 22 years. How could this happen to me?” Metcalfe asked. The answer was invisible and potentially deadly: radon.
“I literally left the doctor’s office, got a [radon] test kit, put it in the house, and our result was 39.8. The upper limit is four,” Metcalfe explained in a public service announcement video. “I think everybody should have their house tested.”
You can’t see, smell, or taste radon, but it could be present at a dangerous level in your home. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in America and claims the lives of about 20,000 Americans each year. Exposure to radon is a preventable health risk, and testing radon levels in your home can help prevent unnecessary exposure.
During National Radon Action Month in January, EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General urge all Americans to protect their health by testing their homes, schools and other buildings for radon.
Protect Yourself from Radon
EPA offers the following four steps to protect against radon poisoning:
- Test your home. Radon testing is easy and inexpensive. Learn more about testing your home, including how to obtain an easy-to-use test kit.
- Attend a National Radon Action Month event in your area. Look for radon events in your community. Contact your state radon program for more information about local radon activities.
- Spread the word. This January, encourage others to learn about radon and test their homes. Plan an activity in your community to help raise awareness; write an op-ed or letter to the editor about the dangers of radon; or attract media attention by working with a local official to get a radon proclamation. (Use EPA’s National Radon Action Month Event Planning Kit as a guide.)
- Buy a radon-resistant home. If you are considering buying a new home, look for builders who use radon-resistant new construction. Learn more by reading “Building Radon Out: A Step-by-Step Guide to Build Radon-Resistant Homes.” Contact your state radon program for information about radon testing, mitigation and radon-resistant new construction in your area.
For more information about radon and safety, visit EPA's National Radon Action Month site.