Radon is a gas that is found in rock, dirt, water, natural gas and building materials. You can’t see or smell it. Radon is radioactive. This means it produces energy that can harm health and even lead to death. As radon decays, it can damage the lungs and even cause lung cancer. In the United States, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths. (Cigarette smoking is responsible for 9 out of 10 deaths from lung cancer in the U.S.)

Radon is not a problem outdoors, but it can be a problem indoors. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that radon testing be done for:

  • All schools
  • All homes below the third floor

What you can do to protect your family from radon

  • Ask your child’s health care provider or the local health department if radon levels are high in your community.
  • Test your home for radon, using a low-cost radon kit. Hardware and home-supply stores sell these kits. Look for the words “Meets EPA Requirements.” If you prefer, you can hire a trained contractor to test your home for radon.
  • If radon levels are high in your house, call the Radon Hotline (800) 767-7236 for advice and information.
  • If you need to, repair your home to reduce radon. Use a contractor certified by the National Radon Safety Board or the National Environmental Health Association.

April 2008

Most common questions

Are plastic baby bottles that use BPA & phthalates safe?

Scientists are debating whether BPA (bisphenol A) and phthalates pose a risk to children's health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expressed concerns about chemicals used in plastics. BPA is used to make plastics clear, strong and hard to break. Some baby bottles, dishes and toys contain this chemical. Some research has found that bisphenol A can affect the brain, behavior and prostate gland in infants and children.

If you're concerned, buy BPA-free plastic baby products. You can also use baby bottles made of glass, polypropylene or polyethylene. If you use plastics, avoid plastics numbered 3 or 7 (look for the number in a triangle typically found on the bottom of containers). Use plastics numbered 1, 2 and 4. If plastic baby bottles and infant cups contain BPA, discard them if they have scratches. Don't put boiling or very hot liquids, such as formula, into plastic bottles or containers that contain BPA.

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