Radon | Killer Beneath Your Feet
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that radon is the "number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers," leading to over "21,000 lung cancer deaths every year." Yet, what is radon? How dangerous is it? Here's what you need to know.
What Is Radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in rock, soil, and water. It seeps into homes through cracks in floors and walls, gaps around pipes, and other openings that allow air to escape. The naturally-occurring gas accumulates in enclosed spaces, like your basement. Exposure to high radon levels can increase the risk of developing lung cancer, affecting both smokers and non-smokers alike.
Is Radon Dangerous?
Yes, radon is dangerous. It can cause respiratory problems, worsen asthma symptoms, and lead to lung cancer and death.
What Are the Signs You Have Radon in Your Home?
Unfortunately, radon can neither be seen nor smelled, so there are no warning signs that it is present in your home. The only way to know if you have a radon problem is to test for it. Radon home testing is relatively simple. You can call a professional to test your home for you. When you purchase a home, even new construction, you should include radon testing as part of your home inspection. Additionally, you should repeat the radon home testing every two to five years.
What Is Radon Testing?
Radon testing involves measuring the levels of radon in your home using special equipment. Professional radon testing involves using a continuous radon monitor that provides an accurate reading of radon levels in your home. The test needs to be placed in the lowest level of your home and left undisturbed until the radon home inspection technician picks it up, usually a day or two later. If the test results come back high, it's important to act quickly to lower the levels of radon in your home. The EPA recommends action if the radon levels in your home are "4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) or more."
What Do You Do If You Have High Levels of Radon?
If the test results show high levels of radon in your home, it's important to take action to reduce the levels. A certified radon mitigation contractor can install a radon mitigation system that pulls radon from underneath the foundation of your home and disperses it safely outside. The system can be installed quickly and usually lowers radon levels. However, it's important to have your home retested after the system is installed to ensure that radon levels have been reduced to safe levels.
For more information on radon home testing, contact a professional near you.