Radon is a naturally occurring, colorless, odorless, highly radioactive gas. It is produced by the natural radioactive decay of uranium 238 in rock, soil, and water. Radon and its associated by-products emit alpha and beta particles and gamma rays. These particles attach themselves to other airborne particles such as dust, and are inhaled into your lungs. Once inside your lungs, they lodge in the mucus membranes. The damage from these particles can cause cancer.
Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and it is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America. Radon claims about 21,000 lives annually. The amount of Radon and the length of time you have been exposed to it determine your lung cancer risk from this sometimes deadly gas. The higher the level, the higher the risk.
Nearly one out of every 15 homes has a radon level the EPA considers to be elevated-4 pCi/L or greater. It is impossible to predict radon levels in your home based on state or local levels. The only way to know if you are living with Radon in your home is to test for it.
How does Radon get into my home?
In most cases, Radon is drawn into your home by what is called the stack effect. Due to lower indoor air temperatures, a natural vacuum pulls Radon upwards through your foundation. Furthermore, Radon can easily enter your home through open sump pits, cracks and holes in the foundation around the perimeter of the basement, joints in construction materials, and crawl spaces that open directly into your building. Because Radon is a gas consisting of one single atom, it can move through your home with ease, traveling through building materials and air conditioning systems.
What can be done about Radon in my home?
When an elevated radon level is confirmed, the problem should be corrected immediately through radon mitigation. You can learn more about Radon mitigation right here at our website.
No level of Radon is considered safe. Therefore, you should try to reduce Radon levels in your home as much as possible. The average Radon level in homes is 1.3 pCi/L. You should take action to reduce Radon in your home if your indoor Radon level is higher than 4 pCi/L (4 picoCuries per liter).
Take action now
Both the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) and the Surgeon Generals office agree that Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, with as many as 21,000 deaths per year. The E.P.A. urges nationwide testing for Radon. They recommend homes be fixed if an occupant's long-term exposure will average 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher.