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Your baby's environment

  • Keep your baby away from harmful products and chemicals.
  • Don’t smoke and keep your baby away from secondhand smoke.
  • Make sure your home is free from things like lead and mold.
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Radon

Radon is a gas that can cause cancer. Many homes in this country have high levels of radon.

Radon comes from the natural breakdown of a metal called uranium in soil, rock and water. It also can be found in natural gas and building materials. You can’t see or smell radon, but there are things you can do to keep your baby safe from radon at home.

How can radon affect your baby’s health?

Breathing in air with radon can cause lung cancer. It doesn’t happen right away, but over time particles from radon can get trapped in your baby’s lungs and break down, damaging her lung tissue. Radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer in this country. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer.

How can radon get into your home?

Radon can get into your home through:

  • Cracks or gaps in the floors or walls
  • Construction joints
  • Gaps around pipes
  • Water supply

Any home can have a radon problem. It usually comes from the soil, but sometimes radon can get into a home through the water supply. Radon in a home’s water usually isn’t a problem when it’s from surface water. It’s more likely to cause a problem if you have a private well or a water supply system that uses ground water.

Radon in the soil under your home can travel up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in your home’s foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up.

How can you keep your baby safe from radon?

To keep your baby safe:

  • Ask your baby’s health care provider or the local health department if radon levels are high in your community.
  • Test your home for radon. It’s easy, doesn’t cost much money and only takes a few minutes. Hardware and home-supply stores sell radon test kits that you can use. You also can hire a trained contractor to test your home for radon. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency website (also called EPA) to learn more about radon testing. 
  • Call the Radon Hotline at (800) 767-7236 if your radon levels are high. The National Safety Council and EPA offer this service.
  • Test your water for radon. If you think radon is getting into your home through water, have your private well tested or contact your water supplier. There are ways to help lower radon in your water. Visit the EPA website to learn more about radon testing in water.
  • Repair your home to reduce radon if your radon levels are high. Contact your state’s radon office for names of qualified or state-certified radon contractors in your area.

More information

Environmental Protection Agency

Last reviewed December 2013


Hazards around the home

  • Secondhand smoke
  • Spots of mold growth
  • Pesticides on vegetables and fruits or outdoors
  • Carbon monoxide from stoves and appliances
  • Lead from old pipes, old paint and certain toys

Frequently Asked 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.

Have questions?