Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. In the case of radon, what you can't see, can hurt you. The Surgeon General warns radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Radon is produced by the radioactive decay of uranium in rock, soil, and water. In many buildings, radon enters from the soil and rock underneath. Once inside a building, radon can become trapped and concentrated.
Nearly one out of every 15 homes has a level of radon the Environmental Protection Agency considers to be elevated. The EPA recommends that homes with more than 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) take action to remedy the radon contamination in their home. A pCi is a measure of the rate of radioactive decay of radon. At 4 pCi/L there will be approximately 12,672 radioactive disintegrations in one liter of air during a 24-hour period.
Unless you test for it, there is no way to tell if you radon in your home. The National Safety Council offers low-cost short- and long-term radon test kits that include lab analysis and return postage. Kits can also be ordered directly from the Helpline, 800-557-2366, with a credit card payment.