The $10 test that can save your life

It’s like something out of a cheap horror movie — but the risks are very, very real.

New research proves that a deadly, invisible gas — one that many of us forgot about years ago — could be pooling in our homes right now.

And every breath we take could be putting us on the fast track to lung cancer.

I’m talking about radon, and government estimates claim it’s killing nearly 60 people every single day.

Most of these radon victims never knew they were in danger — or that a simple, $10 test could save their lives.

What you don’t know can kill you
I’m sure you remember about 30 years ago when radon testing was all the rage.

Just about everyone you knew was buying a home test kit or hiring some professional to measure radon levels. It was big business!

And while the fad went away, unfortunately, the danger didn’t. In fact, it may be worse than ever.

A new report by the EPA found that one out of every 15 homes in America has radon levels that are above the “safe” limit.

That means if you look up and down your street right now, at least one of the houses has enough radon to make you sick — and maybe even cause lung cancer. Some are contaminated with amounts that exceed what miners are allowed to be exposed to!

You see, radon is everywhere — especially in soil. And when it dissipates into the air, it’s relatively harmless.

But put a home in its way, and it’s a whole other matter. Even if you don’t have a basement, radon can seep into your house through cracks in the floor, chimney, pipes or ductwork.

In fact, radon exposure is now the number-one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

That’s something Jill Johnson wishes she had known about.

Eight years ago when she was 54, Jill, a healthy dance instructor, was stunned to find out she had lung cancer. “You could have knocked me over with a feather,” she said about the diagnosis.

Or Joe Linnertz. He hadn’t smoked for 27 years when it was discovered he not only had lung cancer, but it had spread to his liver and bones.

After Joe’s death, his wife Gloria had their Illinois home tested, and the radon levels were off the charts. The same was true with Jill’s home. But they all found out too late.

“Since my diagnosis,” said Jill, “I have discovered that most people I talk with about radon gas know little or nothing about it.” And that, she said, includes her doctors, who “underplay” it as a cause of lung cancer.

While some parts of the country are more prone to higher levels of radon than others, it’s still urgent that you have your home tested no matter where you live. (You can check the EPA’s radon map here.)

You can buy a test kit for around $10 at any home improvement store, or hire a professional to get the job done. Whichever route you choose, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Winter is the best time to check for radon as windows are typically closed, trapping more gas.
  • Follow test kit instructions carefully, being sure NOT to ventilate the area first. You want the maximum levels that are present.
  • Put the test kit in the lowest area of your home, such as a basement if you have one.

A reading of 4 pCi/L (or “picocuries” per liter of air, which is how radon is measured) will mean a radiation exposure that’s 35 times what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says is allowable.

Your goal should be get the number down as low as possible — at a minimum below 2 pCi/L. To do that, you may need to hire a professional who can find out where radon is entering your home and help seal it up more tightly.

“Radon is a health hazard with a simple solution” EPA,