The Hidden Killer In Your House - Radon Gas Poisioning
With the onset of colder weather, families are spending more time indoors. But what are the dangers of spending so much time inside? Depending on where you live, Radon gas may be a potential health hazard to consider. The typical concentration of radon in your home is about 1.3 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). By comparison, the average concentration of radon in outdoor air is .4 pCi/L. Homeowners with homes measuring radon levels of 2 pCi/L over should consider having their homes fixed.
So what is Radon gas and where does it come from?
Radon is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gaseous radioactive element that is an extremely toxic, colorless gas. It is the result of the radioactive decay of radium. Radium is part of the long decay chain for naturally occurring uranium which is present in the earth’s crust and is found in almost all rock, soil and water. Radon enters the home through cracks in the foundation or basement drains as it escapes from the soil surrounding the house and becomes trapped inside the home. The level of radon leaking from the soil depends upon the weather, soil moisture, and soil consistency. Any home, old or new, can have a radon issue.
What are the dangers of being exposed to radon?
The only known health issues related to exposure to radon gas is lung cancer, and there are no immediate symptoms from being exposed to radon. Radon related lung cancer can occur 5 to 25 years after being exposed to the gas. There are approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. associated with radon gas. The scientific community believes that up to 12% of lung cancers can be attributed to radon. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths, and they are at a higher risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer. Other respiratory diseases do not appear to be caused by exposure to radon and children do not appear to be at a greater risk than adults for lung cancer.
How do I test my home for radon dangers?
There are two types of testing kits: A short-term kit remains in the home for two to 90 days and provide faster results. A long-term test remains in the home for over 90 days and gives a more complete picture of the year-round average radon level. The National Radon Program Services have test kits available for $15 and $25. To order online: http://sosradon.org/test-kits. For more information on national and local testing programs, see: http://www.epa.gov/radon/whereyoulive.html. Some home improvement stores also carry test kits. Ensure that the test is approved by a qualified laboratory. Your state or local radon office may also have a list of qualified contractors that can test your home.
I’ve tested my home, what do the results mean?
If the results from a long-term test or the average of two short-term tests confirm radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends you consider fixing your home.
How do I fix my home if I have high Radon limits?
Without the proper equipment or technical knowledge, the radon level can actually be increased or other potential hazards could be created during repairs. It is recommends that a qualified radon mitigation contractor fix your home because it requires specific technical knowledge, special skills, and proper equipment to lower high radon levels. If you do decide to repair your home on your own, see the EPA’s “Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction: How to Fix Your Home” at http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/consguid.pdf.