Oftentimes, the greatest health risks in the home are substances that are not recognized by the human senses such as sight or smell, but are invisible, and cause irreversible harm to a home’s inhabitants. One of these hazards is the exposure to radon gas, an odorless, invisible, radioactive gas that can cause serious health issues such as lung cancer, which causes the deaths of 20,000 Americans annually. Therefore, testing houses for high radon levels are imperative.
What Emits Radon and How Does It Enter Your Home?
Radon can enter any home, regardless of its age, location, or amount of insulation present, in fact, a home that is well insulated is at an increased risk. Radon gas is emitted through the decay of uranium, which is present in the soil surrounding the home. It then rises and enters the home from various avenues, such as cracks in the foundation or through pipes. Interestingly, radon gas is not harmful when outdoors, however, becomes harmful when located in a confined area.
According to the American Cancer Society, radon gas is harmful to the lungs because it eats away at their lining due to the exposure to harmful radiation. This can subject many to lung cancer; however, those who smoke are especially vulnerable, as their lungs are already compromised.
Radon Testing: How To Test For High Radon Levels
Interestingly, awareness of the dangers of radon gas has increased in the last 20 years, as cancer research has become more advanced. The importance of radon testing homes for the gas is amplified by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) study, that one in three homes are above the recommended radon level of 4 pCi/l. The good news is that it’s quite easy to test a home’s radon levels. One option is to hire a professional to test your house; however, the prices could vary and could be expensive depending on the size of the home.
If you choose not to hire a professional radon testing company, another option is to purchase a test kit from a trusted hardware store or contact state and local environmental agencies, which oftentimes distribute the tests, such as a radon office. Digital tests are also quite common, as they can be reused for almost a decade; however, they are exponentially expensive, with some prices soaring over $1,000.
The lowest floors in the house usually have the highest radon levels due to their proximity to the ground. Therefore, a basement or crawl space would have the highest radon levels, and the top floor would have the least.
Radon Mitigation: Preventing Radon From Entering The Home?
If the test indicates high levels of radon, there are a number of different avenues for a homeowner to mitigate the risk of exposure. Close inspection of the home, including any large cracks, should be sealed with caulk. Furthermore, if a house is equipped with a sump pump, the EPA suggests that an airtight cover is installed, as radon gasses could enter the home through the pipes.
Additionally, mitigation systems can be fabricated utilizing PVC pipe, which redirects radon gas from the soil surrounding the home outside. According to the EPA, this is best routed through the sump pump, or through the floor in a basement, crawlspace, or slab. These types of systems are installed by a radon mitigation and abatement service.
Radon testing and inspection is important, and it is imperative for every homeowner to facilitate a test. Furthermore, if high levels of radon are found in a home, it is essential that immediate action is taken to mitigate the risk to your health and well-being.