Published on 11/26/14

Give the gift of safety this holiday season: Test for radon, and encourage your family to do the same

By Pamela R. Turner

As the new holiday season rolls around, families and friends are gathering to celebrate, fuss over new babies, eat turkey and dressing and exchange gifts. It is a time of joy and generosity. But what if unbeknownst to you there is a thief in your house? A thief you cannot see, smell, hear, taste, or touch, that is silently stealing the health of you and your loved ones.

Radon can be that thief. Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, is the second leading cause of lung cancer and the first leading cause among non-smokers. It comes from the decay of uranium in rock and soil.

Radon levels tend to be low outdoors, however, inside radon can build to high and dangerous levels. Also, radon is heavier than air so babies, young children and pets are at an even higher risk since they are closer to the ground where the radon level is higher.

You can protect your home and your loved ones by testing your home for radon. Testing is the only way to know the radon level inside your home.

Testing is easy. Simply hang the test kit at the shortest person’s breathing level in a room, such as a family room or bedroom on the lowest livable level of your home.

Three to seven days later, take the kit down and drop it in the mail. Radon levels at 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) and above are unsafe, but some relatively simple measures can be implemented to reduce high radon levels.

Radon test kits are great stocking stuffer gifts. Health and peace of mind are gifts that keep giving.

For more information or to order a test kit for $10 go to or call your county Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1. Radon kits from the University of Georgia include the cost of postage and laboratory analysis.

This article was co-written by Kathryn Holland, a graduate student in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

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