This is an effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to prevent 20,000 cancer deaths in the U.S. each year—the second leading cause of lung cancer, responsible for 15% of deaths. The EPA estimates that over 8 million U.S. homes have dangerous levels of radon gas.
Radon, the "silent killer", causes more in-home deaths than fires, carbon monoxide, drowning, poisoning, falls, or guns.
Catherine Martin of Air Quality Control Agency, a company that installs mitigation systems, says radon is an odorless gas that forms when uranium in the soil decomposes and then seeks the air. If it exists under and around a home, only a mitigation system can keep it from coming inside.
Inexpensive kits are available to test for radon--based on international studies, the World Health Organization has just lowered so-called “acceptable” levels of radon from 4 to 2.7 picocuries.
Martin says a mitigation system will pull radon through a pipe to the outside, where oxygen dissolves the gas. She says systems she’s quoted in Pittsburgh range from about $695 to $895.