The Environmental Protection Agency has designated January as National Radon Action Month.

What is radon? Radon is a radioactive gas, a byproduct from the decay of uranium in the soil that occurs naturally all over the world. Radon is in the air you breathe every day and can build up to dangerous levels when the gas is trapped inside our homes and other structures. 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 21,000 Americans each year. In fact, the EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General urge all Americans to protect their health by testing their homes, schools and other buildings for radon. Exposure to radon is a preventable health risk, and testing radon levels in your home can help prevent unnecessary exposure. If a high radon level is detected in your home, you can take steps to fix the problem to protect yourself and your family.

According to the EPA, here are four things you can do during National Radon Action Month:

Test your home

The EPA and U.S. Surgeon General recommend that all homes in the U.S. be tested for radon. Testing is easy and inexpensive. Learn more about testing your home, including how to obtain an easy-to-use test kit at

Attend a National Radon Action Month event in your area

Look for radon events in your community.

Spread the word

Spend time during National Radon Action Month encouraging others to learn about radon and test their homes. Tell your family and friends about the health risk of radon. Encourage them to test their homes. View or order EPA’s free radon publications

Buy a radon-resistant home

If you are considering buying a new home, look for builders who use radon-resistant new construction. Read more about radon-resistant new construction, “Building Radon Out: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Build Radon-Resistant Homes.”

C. Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home improvement questions at C. Dwight Barnett, Evansville Courier & Press, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, Ind. 47702 or e-mail him at [email protected].

By C. Dwight Barnett, Tribune News Service (TNS)