What is Radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas. Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in
nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground and into your home where it is trapped and can build up.
The Health Risk
The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high. Radon gas decays into radioactive particles called radon decay products. These particles can get trapped in your lungs where they will break down further. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. These bursts can damage your lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of time. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer. Your chances of getting lung cancer depend mostly on:
- How much radon is in your home
- The amount of time you spend in your home
- Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked
Measuring Radon and Radon in Our Area
The amount of radon in the air is measured in “picocuries per liter of air” or pCi/L. Radon decay products are measured in “working levels” or WL. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends fixing your home if the radon gas level is greater than 4 pCi/L or the radon decay product level is above 0.02 WL. The average indoor radon level is estimated to be 1.3 pCi/L and about 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air. The EPA believes that any radon exposure carries some risk, even levels below 4 pCi/L. No level of radon is safe.
The Wyoming Radon Project has compiled radon test results by county from the kits they have provided.
As you can see, nearly 6 of 10 homes tested in Sheridan County have radon levels above the EPA recommended action level and in Johnson County about 3 of 10 homes are elevated. The EPA estimates nationally nearly 1 in 15 homes are elevated.