Radioactivity sign against a blue sky, for use on Radon education events

Radon

Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that is dispersed in outdoor air. However, radon can reach harmful levels when trapped in a home. Scientists are concerned about the health risk of radon. There is overwhelming proof that exposure to elevated levels of radon causes lung cancer in humans.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Because you cannot see or smell radon, people tend to downplay the health effects and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer in their homes.

Testing homes for elevated levels of radon is simple and inexpensive. Residents should test their homes during the winter months. For a free radon test kit, email Al at ark249@cornell.edu or leave a message for him at 518-765-3529. A radon test kit with instructions and educational information can be mailed or picked up at our Voorheesville office.


How Radon Gets Into Your Home

Air pressure inside your home is usually lower than pressure in the soil around your home's foundation. When radon gas is present in the soil, your house acts like a vacuum and draws radon in through cracks and other openings.

Radon gets into your home through:

  1. Cracks in solid floors
  2. Construction joints
  3. Cracks in walls
  4. Gaps in suspended floors
  5. Gaps around service pipes
  6. Cavities inside walls
  7. Your water supply

Radon Resistant Construction

If you are planning to build a new home, talk to your builder about radon-resistant construction. Simple, built-in features are much less expensive than fixing a radon problem later.
The free EPA publication, Building Radon Out-A Step-by-Step Guide On How To Build Radon-Resistant Homes (2001), can be ordered from the EPA website.

Find a builder that uses Radon-Resistant construction techniques.

Contact

Alexander Kleinberger
Environmental Health Educator
ark249@cornell.edu
518-528-0627

Last updated May 13, 2021