The risk of high radon levels in a home is often overlooked. While you may not have considered having your home tested for radon, this simple and inexpensive test could potentially save your life.
What is Radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that has no smell or taste and is invisible. This gas is produced when radioactive elements, such as uranium, decompose in the rock, soil, and even in the groundwater. People are exposed to radon most commonly by breathing air with radon particles.
How Does Radon Become a Problem?
Radon gas is all around us, but normally at such low levels that it does not pose a serious health risk. When the radon gas seeps through cracks or gaps in a building’s foundation, the gas can accumulate to dangerous levels inside the structure. When this gas is inhaled, the radioactive material gets stuck in the lungs and can have serious long-term health effects. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends reducing radon levels in homes with a radon level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). They estimate that at this level or above, the risk of contracting cancer due to radon exposure is high enough that something should be done about it.
3 Reasons to Test for Radon Right Now
1. Radon Exposure Causes Cancer
Multiple studies have confirmed that radon exposure leads to cancer. The EPA estimates that radon exposure is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is responsible for about 21,000 deaths related to lung cancer per year. For smokers, the risks of cancer due to exposure are much higher. Children are especially at risk for health problems due to radon exposure. Because children breathe more rapidly than adults, they can inhale more radon particles. Additionally, children’s lungs are smaller and can become damaged more quickly.
2. Getting your Home Tested for Radon is Inexpensive
Inexpensive home kits to test for radon levels can be purchased at home improvement retailers. These are typically “passive devices” meaning they don’t require power and rely on charcoal canisters, alpha-track detectors, and other similar means to detect radon levels. After the kit is opened in the home for a period of time, it is sent off to a lab for analysis.
While DIY testing is an option, the most efficient and accurate way to test for radon is to have a professional home inspector come and test your home. They will use an “active device” which is more sensitive, is able to continuously measure the rise and fall of radon levels within the home, and can test multiple areas. For true peace of mind about the levels of radon in your home, it is important to have your home tested for radon by a professional instead of using the DIY method. The cost of a professional radon test is still inexpensive, and well worth it when it comes to the health of your family.
3. You Can Decrease the Level of Radon in Your Home
If you have high radon levels in your home, it can be decreased fairly easily. The technology for mitigating radon in the home has advanced to the point that practically all homes can be fixed. In some cases, there are do-it-yourself fixes. But, to ensure that the radon in your home is mitigated safely and properly, you should hire a contractor who is certified by either the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists or the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB).
To Sum Up
- Radon is known to cause cancer
- It is relatively inexpensive to test for radon
- If you have high levels, you can decrease it and save lives