Why Have a Radon Test Done?
Over 120,000 people died in the U.S. last year from smoking related lung cancer. Do you know what the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths was, killing an estimated 21,000 people? Radon exposure. Unfortunately, the majority of people have no idea what radon is or that it may be silently killing them.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, chemically inert gas. It is produced from the natural breakdown of uranium ore in the soil. Radon is highly radioactive and easily permeates common building materials such as wood, drywall, paint, concrete block, mortar and most insulations. The greatest risk of radon exposure arises from buildings which are tight, insufficiently ventilated and have leaks that let in soil air from the ground into basements and dwelling rooms.
Outdoor concentrations of radon average about 0.4 pCi/L (picocurries per liter), whereas average indoor quality is estimated at 1.3 pCi/L. The EPA recommends you have your home fixed if radon levels are found to be 4.0 pCi/L or higher. The US Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no higher than outdoor levels. Though this is not readily achievable in all cases, most homes can be reduced to 2.0 pCi/L and lower.
There are simple tests available for radon detection. Most tests include a collector that sits in a home for 2-7 days and is then mailed to a lab where it is analyzed. Radon levels in a home can vary wildly based on weather conditions, temperature, and barometric pressure. It is recommended that if you’re conducting a test as part of home buyers’ inspections that you consult or hire a radon professional. For a sample radon test report, click here.
If radon is found to be at high concentrations in your current home or the home you’re considering buying, there are very affordable solutions to mitigate it. The four primary ways to reduce the level of radon in a home are:
- Sub-slab depressurization
- Improving the ventilation of the house and avoiding transport of air from basement or crawl space to living areas.
- Installing a radon sump system in the basement.
- Installing a positive pressure ventilation system.
More information is available for home buyers and sellers at the EPA’s website.