In the United States, radon causes 20,000 lung cancer deaths annually. By comparison, this is more than deaths resulting from drunk driving. Radon is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, and occurs in the soils of every state in the nation. It can get into your house through cracks in the foundation, through your water supply, gaps around service pipes, and gaps in service floors, etc. As radon is heavier than air it becomes trapped inside the home, and if improperly vented can reach toxic levels.
And now the good news. Radon testing and mitigation are both easy and inexpensive. There are several do-it-yourself testing kits available or you can hire a radon testing professional to do the job for you. For self-testers, the EPA recommends starting with a short-term testing kit that takes only a few minutes to set up. You will have results within 2 – 90 days depending on the kit. If your results are 4 pCi/L or higher you should complete a second short-term test, OR a long-term test which is more likely to give you a more accurate year-round radon level reading. At this point, if the second short-term or the long-term test are still at or above 4pCi/L than you need to proceed with mitigating your home of radon. Here is a great resource page from the EPA on radon reduction in your home.