January Is Radon Action Month:
What You Need To Know
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What Is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless radioactive gas formed by the ongoing decay of uranium in soil, rocks, sediments, and even well or groundwater. While radon that escapes into the atmosphere is not harmful, dangerously high concentrations can build up indoors, exposing occupants to possible health risks.
Any property can have a radon problem – old or new, well-sealed or drafty, with or without a basement. The EPA estimates that 1 in 6 homes in the U.S. is affected by radon. Prolonged exposure to unsafe levels of radon can create an increased risk of lung cancer; in fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. It can also cause certain cancers in household pets, including dogs, cats, birds and reptiles.
Lung cancer caused by avoidable radon exposure is preventable, but only if radon issues are detected and mitigated prior to prolonged exposure in homes and buildings. There is a real risk in not knowing if a property has a high level of radon.
How Does Radon Get Into A Home?
Lighter than air, radon can migrate to the indoors in several ways. Openings or cracks in basement walls, foundations or floors are common avenues. Sumps, basement drains, and spaces between gas or water fittings can also allow radon into the structure. Other entry points can include gaps in suspended floors and cavities within walls.
How Can You Make Sure A Home Is Safe?
Testing is the only way to determine if a particular home is affected by radon. While some geographic areas are more prone to higher environmental radon levels in general, radon can and does occur everywhere and levels can vary from home to home, even within the same neighborhood. Just because one home checks out fine doesn’t mean the home next door will be okay.
A professional radon test includes setting up monitoring equipment at the property and letting it run for several days. After the data is analyzed, the inspector will report on the results. If an elevated level of radon is detected, steps can be taken to reduce the concentration to or below acceptable levels inside virtually any home. These measures can include a relatively simple setup such as a collection system with a radon vent pipe, which will prevent radon from entering the home in the first place. Professional mitigation services can provide recommendations for a home’s specific conditions.