Until 1984, the average homeowner was never concerned about the radon level is his or her home. That year, an employee of a nuclear power plant started setting off the radiation alarms every time he went to work in a two-week span. After a long investigation, it was determined that his high radiation levels were not the result of his current position of employment, but a silent and possibly deadly contaminant in his home.
His home was tested and the investigators found an extremely high radon level within the house. Radon gas is a highly radioactive material that forms as the element radium begins to decay. The substance is extremely detrimental to the health of anyone exposed to it in high enough quantities, and it is behind only smoking in its tendency to cause lung cancer. Radon is expelled from the ground, naturally, almost everywhere. Houses that are built on granite or shale, however, tend to have the highest concentrations of the gas, because the underlying ground is much more porous than materials like sand or clay.
Fortunately, the government immediately set standards regarding the acceptable radon level that can be present in the average home. Soon after, many services were offered to test for the gas in residences, and if unacceptable levels were found, the problem could be corrected. Now, there is a wide supply of kits available that the homeowner can use to test the radon level without needing to call a professional.
If a high radon level is found in a home, the most common advice is to monitor the situation for a while. The gas tends to fluctuate in volume, and, therefore, it may take a while to get an accurate measurement of the actual quantity of gas present in the home. Then, if it is necessary, a professional can be called to deal with the problem. Lowering a high radon level can prevent the future onset of radon-related lung cancer.