Radon Testing

by Jane VanOsdol on February 11, 2011

Is your home a safe place for your family? Most homeowners do everything they can to be sure that their homes are secure places for their families to be. One issue that’s raising a lot of concern lately in the media is that of radon gas.

Facts

Just like carbon monoxide, you can’t see, taste or smell radon. Because it’s invisible, many homeowners never give it a second thought. But what you don’t see, taste or smell could be killing you.

Radon is a dangerous, radioactive gas that can contribute to health problems. According to the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) 2003 Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes, (EPA 402-R-03-003), radon is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year. After smoking, it’s the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of contracting lung cancer is even higher.

Radon Found in All Areas of the United States

While certain areas of the country tend to have higher concentrations of radon than other areas, any home can still have high levels. Radon comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water, and it gets into the air that we breathe. You will get the greatest exposure in the building where you spend the most time—usually in your home.

How Radon Gets in Your Home

Radon usually moves up through the ground and into the air above. It can get into your home through the following ways.

  • Cracks in solid floors
  • Construction joints
  • Cracks in walls
  • Gaps in suspended floors
  • Gaps around service pipes
  • Cavities inside walls
  • Water supply

Good News

The good news is that you can do something about this. The EPA recommends that every home be tested for radon. It’s a fairly easy process. You can do it yourself, or you can hire a professional to do it. Every home that is below the third floor should be tested for radon.

Radon is measured in picocuries per liter, or pCi/L. Once you have your test results back, you’ll know for certain if you have a problem. You will need to do radon mitigation for levels that are 4 pCi/L or greater. (Some countries use 2 as the cut off range.)

Take comfort in the fact that even homes that have very high levels of radon can usually be fixed and the levels brought down to a safe zone through the radon mitigation process.

New Homes

Keep in mind that if you’re building a new home, the builder can use radon-resistant construction techniques. These are generally simple and inexpensive fixes for the builder. Ask your contractor about strategies to prevent radon entry.

Don’t waste a minute more worrying about radon in your home. This is one home improvement that could save a life.

Related Articles:

Indoor Air Quality:  Basements

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