Radon is radioactive gas that is carcinogenic and dangerous to humans if inhaled in large quantities. Although it can’t be seen, smelled, or tasted, one in five homes has elevated levels. Exposure to radon causes lung cancer and is second only to smoking as a cause. As many as 20,000 Americans die of radon-related lung cancer each year.
There is no safe amount of radon exposure, but the EPA established an action guideline level of 4 pCi/L. At this action level, radiation exposure levels are approximately 35 times that of standing next to the fence of a radioactive waste site.
The build-up of radon in homes is a health concern but is generally lower than the average radon concentration in underground work areas. Testing your home is important for your family’s safety.
Professional radon testing as part of home inspections can diagnose the presence of the silent gas and is the best way to stay safe.
Radon testing is easy and inexpensive
There are no immediate physical symptoms that will alert you to the radon exposure or increased levels of radon in your home. It typically takes years of silent, deadly exposure before any health problems surface.
Medical and government experts, like the American Lung Association and American Medical Association, recommend testing your home for radon to determine levels. You can hire a professional tester, complete testing during a home inspection, or do it yourself. Follow the instructions on the test for exposure and mail it to a lab for testing.
Any building can harbour radon gas
Radon occurs naturally in igneous rock and soil, and in some cases, well water. Because it’s emitted from uranium in the soil, radon levels are usually highest in the basement or crawl space. Radon accumulates in these underground spaces with inadequate ventilation.
The lethal gas doesn’t discriminate by age or location of the house, although local geology can affect the likelihood that it can be found in your home. Construction can affect whether the gas seeps into the house through cracks in floors or walls and becomes concentrated.
Fixing the problem
There are simple solutions to lowering radon exposure. Common methods include sealing foundation cracks and openings, and installing a vent pipe and fan system. Some contractors install plastic sheeting as a barrier under the foundation slab. The cost can vary widely, depending on the construction of your home and what kind of barrier sheeting, vent system, or sealants you need.
Protect your family
Families spend the majority of their time at home, so that’s where radon exposure is most likely, although radon can be found in any building. Radon seeps up from the ground and into your home through cracks in the foundation or walls. Once it’s inside, it can get trapped and build up.
Radon is part of the environment and generally isn’t harmful, but given the amount of harm that exposure can cause to your family, it makes sense to test for it. Hire a professional for the most reliable results and remedies.