What is radon? Does it really cause lung cancer? Here's what I learned having a radon test done at my house - East Idaho News

What is radon? Does it really cause lung cancer? Here’s what I learned having a radon test done at my house

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IDAHO FALLS — You can’t see it and you can’t taste it but it could be at dangerous levels inside your home.

Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that comes out of the ground and can cause health problems.

“It could be at a low level, it could be a high level and it could even be a level that could cause lung cancer,” says Dave Mathison, an inspector for Healthy Home Environmental Services in Idaho Falls.

Mathison and his colleagues perform radon tests at homes across eastern Idaho. January is National Radon Action Month and experts warn that long-term exposure to high radon levels can increase the risk of developing lung cancer.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, according to the EPA, and is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year.

“Radon comes up through the ground and through the cracks and penetrations in concrete floors in your basement or up through the crawl space in your home,” Mathison explains.

The EPA recommends taking action to reduce radon levels indoors if concentrations exceed 4 picocuries per liter of air and urges people to consider fixing their homes if the levels range between 2 and 4 picocuries.

In eastern Idaho, the numbers vary from house to house.

Mathison tested a home in Rexburg this month that measured 21.9 and his team has seen homes in the Driggs area with radon levels measuring 50 picocuries.

If numbers are high, Healthy Home Environmental Services installs a system to remove the radon before it enters your home.

“We remove the gasses under the slab in the basement. It goes up through a piping system we install through the house and then a fan takes and puts it out in the atmosphere to get it away from the home,” Mathison says.

Healthy Home Environmental Services performs radon testing for around $100. The simple tests take 48 hours and you receive results immediately.

radon test
Healthy Home Environmental Services performs radon testing at homes and businesses in eastern Idaho. | Jordan Wood, EastIdahoNews.com

Because it’s Radon Awareness Month, Mathison and his colleague Randy Scheer agreed to come to my home and perform a radon test.

Check out how it works and the results in the video player above.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is holding a free virtual workshop to learn more about radon. It will be held Jan. 23 from 6-7 p.m. You can learn more about the class and register here.