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Protecting a Home From Silent Threat

Protecting a Home From Silent Threat

October 1, 2008

The cost of heating a home is expected to be higher than ever this winter, so this is a good time to batten down the hatches by caulking, sealing and weather-stripping every cold air entry point.

But homeowner beware: the quick fix could create a more serious set of problems, because the better you are at sealing icy air out, the more likely you are to keep potentially harmful gases like radon sealed in.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can’t be seen, smelled or tasted. “It is a classic carcinogen,” said Philip Jalbert, the radon team leader for the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington. “We estimate that about 20,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer every year,” making it the country’s second-highest cause of lung cancer, behind smoking.

Consumer Reports Insights: Homes often harbor safety hazards