"The physical effects of radon exposure are essentially none," Shannon said. "Without a radon test, you'll have no idea it's even in your home."
Philip Jalbert, radon team leader for the Environmental Protection Agency, said testing for radon is simple.
"The most common and simplest test is the passive radon detector, which is easily available over the phone or on the Internet," said Jalbert. "Once the initial radon test is performed in your home, it should be done once every two years to make sure that the levels haven't changed."
Most of the kits available are either round tin cans, foil bag devices or small plastic vials, all of which typically contain charcoal. The charcoal absorbs radon gases and is later measured in the lab for concentration. Testing typically lasts anywhere from two to seven days, and results could be available in as little as three days, Jalbert said.
If radon levels are above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air, the EPA recommends a technique called "active soil depressurization." According to Jalbert, this is a pipe with a fan in it that increases ventilation beneath the slab of the house so the gas won't be able to enter the house.
January is National Radon Action Month and for more information on radon detection, visit the EPA Web site at www.epa.gov/radon.