Southern Home Inspection Services | Radon gas is a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer over time. Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), a measurement of radioactivity. In the United States, the average indoor radon level is about 1.3 pCi/L. The average outdoor level is about 0.4 pCi/L. The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend fixing homes with radon levels at or above 4 pCi/L. EPA also recommends that people think about fixing their homes for radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L
Below are 5 key things every homeowner should know about radon, radon testing, and how to reduce the levels of radon in your home.
What is Radon?
Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas produced by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and goes into the air you breathe. According to the EPA, it’s present in nearly all soils and low levels of radon are found in the air.
Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water.
What are the Dangers of Radon?
Because radon can go into the air, it enters and gets trapped in your home. You inhale it without noticing it as it is odorless and tasteless. Long term exposure to high levels of radon can cause lung cancer over time. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 21,000 Americans are killed every year due to radon exposure. This explains why some people die of lung cancer without ever smoking a single cigarette.
You can’t see or smell radon. Testing is the only way to know your level of exposure. Radon can have a big impact on your family’s health.
How Does Radon Enter the Home?
Any house of any age and in any state can be exposed to radon. Radon gas seeps directly through pores in concrete but the worst entry points are the gaps in walls and floors. This is another reason why crack and gaps should be sealed immediately. Radon poisoning is one of the reasons why your house is making you sick for no apparent reason.
How to Test Your House for Radon
Hiring a professional inspector to conduct radon testing is the best option. According to EPA, a radon level of 4.0 pCi/L can still pose a health risk.
However, you can conduct radon testing by yourself. It is best to conduct radon testing in the lowest livable area of the home which is regularly used for 8 to 10 hours per week.
- Short Term Radon Test: This type of kit is available at home centers, hardware stores, and online retailers. Most short term test kits are activated charcoal-based or use electret ion methodology which both measures radon levels for two to seven days.
- Long Term Radon Test: This test measures radon levels for 90 days to 1 year. This type of kit is usually based on alpha particle tracking. This is also more accurate in terms of average annual levels as radon level can vary significantly from day to day or month to month. Long Term Radon Tests are available at state radon agencies and online retailers.
- Continuous Radon Test: Electric monitors can be used for both short-term and long-term tests to give you a running daily average.
How to Lower Radon Levels
You can try these easy repairs to reduce the radon levels in your home:
- Caulk foundation cracks, joints, and other openings
- Install an airtight cover on your sump pump
- Cover crawlspaces with polyurethane plastic sheeting
Conduct the test again. If the levels are still high, consider a radon mitigation system. According to EPA, a radon mitigation system involves ventilating your home with PVC piping to draw radon gas up from the soil and out of your house. Although you can do this yourself, it is best that you hire a professional to do so. Exposure to high levels of radon can pose a health risk to you and your family.
Radon is a serious health risk. It can be reduced easily and cost-effectively but you have to know if your home has radon or not by testing. Take action today. Encourage your family members and friends to do the same!