Buy a radon detector!

When we bought our house six years ago, a radon mitigation device was installed in the basement. The unit seems to be working fine, but we’ve never tested for radon. I bought a mail-in kit years ago, but it proved too much trouble. You need to run the test without air circulation for a specific number of days and then mail the kit in. We never did.

I finally took action today after my wife pointed me to Nicholas Kristof’s article summarizing The President’s Cancer Panel’s new report, “REDUCING ENVIRONMENTAL CANCER RISK: What We Can Do Now”, which warns:

radon gas, which forms naturally from the breakdown of uranium mineral deposits, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and the leading cause of lung cancer among people who have never smoked. Radon-induced lung cancer is responsible for an estimated average of 21,000 deaths annually…. scientists believe the range could be as wide as 8,000–45,000 radon deaths per year…. It is advisable to periodically check home radon levels. Home buyers should conduct a radon test in any home they are considering purchasing.

I just bought a Safety Siren Pro Series HS71512 3 Radon Gas Detector. $130 is a lot of money, but ask yourself how much you would pay to prevent a single family member from developing cancer? Radon is colorless and odorless. Unless you’re testing for it, it could be killing you right now.

Buying this detector costs about the same as running several radon tests by mail, but it’s much more convenient and should give you many years of protection. If you own — and you should — smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, shouldn’t you also invest in a radon detector?

Posted by James on Thursday, May 06, 2010