Radon is a colorless, tasteless naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from uranium deposits in the ground. It’s quite common for homes and commercial buildings to be constructed over areas that emit various levels of radon gas, especially in certain geographical zones.
Radon enters the home through the home’s foundation or well water. Although naturally occurring, the indoor levels of radon vary widely across the United States and from house to house.
How Much Exposure to Radon Gas is Too Much?
Studies show that any level of radon over 0.4 pCi/L increases the risk for lung cancer. People who have smoked are at an even higher risk. Some homes have extremely high levels of radon when a house next door may not have any. Because radon dissipates quickly, concentrations of radon gas outdoors are negligible.
Symptoms of Radon Poisoning
People who are exposed to high levels of radon over a prolonged period of time often develop lung cancer. Early symptoms of radon exposure are coughing, wheezing, heavy breathing, and infections like pneumonia and bronchitis.
Symptoms of radon gas exposure are often not recognized until a serious condition has been diagnosed.
How to Test for Radon
A radon test kit is an important instrument used to determine radon gas levels. Using a reputable and experienced test facility is important. Look for a facility that has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) Also, taking at least two tests in different parts of the house gives a more accurate reading.
One of the test sites should be the master bedroom since so many people spend the majority of their time at home sleeping. Doing the tests midsummer and midwinter will give you a good average of levels in your home. Also, don’t forget to send in a water sample if your water comes from a source other than a public water service.
How to Reduce Levels of Radon in Your Home
If your test results come back with higher than normal levels of radon, there is no reason to panic. It is easy to lower levels of radon gas with proper ventilation and water filtration. Setting up fans and circulating air will lower levels quickly.
Certain parts of your house will be more prone to have higher levels. Basements are more likely to have higher levels due to their proximity to the ground.
Do not use a basement as a living space unless correct ventilation is installed. Sealing any cracks or openings in the basement is especially important. If you have high levels of radon in your water, a charcoal filtration system along with proper aeration will dispel any gas in the water.
Be a Smart Homeowner
High priced radon mitigation companies will try and sell you all sort of gadgets, but the average consumer can lower radon levels with these common sense techniques.