Each January, EPA seeks to raise awareness of radon exposure during National Radon Action Month, encouraging residents to protect themselves and their families by having their homes tested for the presence of radon.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. It occurs from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil and rocks. High levels of radon can potentially be found in homes, but it can be tested and gotten rid of fairly easily.

If left untreated, radon can build up indoors, leading to adverse health effects. After smoking, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US, taking the lives of approximately 21,000 Americans every year. Radon exposure is a preventable health risk, and testing for radon can help prevent prolonged exposure.

“In the US, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meg McCollister. “We urge everyone to protect their health and that of their loved ones by testing their homes for the presence of radon gas, especially those who live in an EPA Radon Zone One, which includes all of Iowa, most of Kansas, northwestern Missouri, and parts of southern and eastern Nebraska.”

Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and can find its way into homes through cracks and holes in the foundation of buildings. It can especially get trapped in basements and crawl spaces, and then move upwards.

Radon testing kits can be bought online and in home improvement stores. Individuals can also request a free test from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services at health.mo.gov/living/environment/radon/index.php

EPA recommends taking action to fix your home if you discover radon levels above 4 picocuries per liter. If your home does have elevated levels of radon, a qualified professional can install a system to lower your indoor radon levels.