Radon gas is a decay product of radioactive uranium that cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. In open air it is harmlessly dispersed, however well water passing through soil with high levels of the gas may be a significant source of radon in a home. High levels of radon occur in Connecticut, particularly in Fairfield County.
Exposure to radon increases your risk of developing lung cancer. According to the U.S. E.P.A., radon causes more cancer deaths than any other single air pollutant except tobacco smoke. When exposure is combined with smoking or inhaling someone else’s smoke, the risk increases dramatically.
Radon gas gets into homes through cracks in foundations, block walls, sump pumps, drains and other openings in cellar floors and walls. It can also be released into the air by running water from faucets and showers if the source of water is a well with high levels of radon.
The simplest way to find out if your home has high levels of radon is through a carbon filter test. Kits are available commercially or may be purchased inexpensively by calling the Radon Hotline — 1-800-SOS-RADON — operated by the National Safety Council. In recent years, in January (Radon Action Month in the state), test kits are offered at a reduced fee ($15 instead of the regular $52 fee). You may also check with the Greenwich Health Department lab (203-622-7843) for testing.