Health Effects of Radon
Most of us are familiar with the risks associated with the colorless, odorless gas known as carbon monoxide, and it’s common to find CO detectors in homes across America. (Make sure you have a CO detector in your home if you don’t! For less than $20 you could save your family’s life!) But there is a lesser-known but equally dangerous gas that is also unseen, unsmelled, and lurking in American homes. So what causes radon? Radon forms when certain radioactive elements in the soil breaks down and comes up from the ground and into the foundation of homes through small cracks. The bad news is that radon is everywhere and it can have serious effects on your health if you’re exposed to it for long periods of time. But the good news is that the more you learn about radon, the better equipped you’ll be to reduce the risk that it can cause to you and your loved ones. Below we’re going to share some of the health effects of radon, how to do radon testing and what to do if you discover you’ve got radon contamination.
- How does radon affect the human body? Heavy radioactive elements are more easily trapped inside your lungs, so when you’re exposed to radon gas and you inhale it, the molecules get stuck in your lung tissue. As the radon particles continue to break apart, they can cause lung damage and even lung cancer. Did you know that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, only topped by smoking? Seriously! In fact, smokers are even more susceptible to the effects of radon and it can speed the symptoms of radon-related problems, like persistent coughing and chest pain.
- How can I test my home’s radon level? For DIY radon testing, consider buying an in-home radon monitor from an online retailer or your local home improvement store to see for yourself what your radon levels are like in your home. While any amount of radon is unsafe, the EPA recommends that you keep your radon level below 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), which is a measurement used to describe the amount of radiation. Handheld monitors can be purchased for as little as $150-$200, and while this may sound like a huge expense, consider what you’ll be saving over the long term in healthcare costs. You might even be adding years to your life and your family’s lives by identifying this problem early!
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- What should I do if my home has excessive radon? The first thing to do is to ventilate your home. Open windows and introduce fresh air into your indoor spaces to flush out as much of the radon as possible. You’ll want to do this on a regular basis -- daily or even every few hours -- until you can get a radon specialist out to inspect and make a plan for installing a radon mitigation system. Once again, this is an expense that you weren’t planning on, but the good news is that in an average American home, you’re probably only looking at somewhere around $1500. Of course, this amount can vary up or down, but that’s a basic ballpark to give you an idea of your bill for this essential safety system.
- What does a radon mitigation system look like? Put very simply, your radon mitigation provider will install a fan and an exhaust pipe on the side of your structure and attach pipes to go into the floor of your foundation somewhere near the center of your home. The fan will then provide negative pressure to suction the radon in the ground under your foundation up through the pipes and evacuate it into the atmosphere on the side of your house. This isn’t complex, but it can be very time-consuming, depending on how your home is laid out and how difficult it is for the technician to drill all of the necessary holes and lay the pipes safely. If you have a crawl space, the radon mitigation team will also cover your surfaces with a plastic seal to keep the radon from coming into the crawl space, and they should also cover your sump pump hole to ensure that radon isn’t able to enter your home that way either. Finally, they will seal any cracks in your foundation to further prevent radon’s ability to come inside. Any service provider will give you a 100% guarantee that the system will keep your home’s radon level below 4.0 pCi/L and they will conduct a post-installation test with a third-party lab to prove it to you.
To learn more about radon, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) resource page. Then, if you’ve got any radon-related questions or you’re ready to get rolling with a radon analysis and mitigation plan, then contact the radon experts here at AdvantaClean. Our locally-owned service providers are standing by to give you the world-class service you and your family deserve.
More info? To learn more about radon and what to do if your home has elevated levels check out: ELEVATED RADON LEVELS: NOW WHAT?