Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that radon causes thousands of cancer deaths in the U.S. each year. An estimated 21,000 per year, to be exact. But what exactly is this cancer-causing substance? Radon is a radioactive gas, produced by the natural decay of uranium found in almost all soils. This gas has no taste, no smell, and cannot be seen by the eye, making it an invisible threat much like Carbon Monoxide. The key is to prevent radon from entering your home, since it is the second leading cause of lung cancer today.
Before radon can become a concern, it must first be present in the area. Radon is commonly found in soils that allow for easy movement, such as soil with high sand or gravel contents. Here in Oregon, higher levels of radon have been recorded along the Coastline and Willamette Valley, due to the type of soil.
Radon gas can enter a home in many different ways, such as cracks in the foundation or wall, construction joints, gaps in suspended floors, or even a home's water supply. If you have spent time weatherizing or improving the energy efficiency of your home, you have already taken an important step in lowering radon levels. Unnecessary airflow through cracks and gaps in walls, foundations, ceilings, and roofs allow a home to "breath," which might mean drawing in radon from the ground.
Though low levels of radon are a common occurrence, it is still very important to consider testing your home for the gas. The EPA reports that 1 in every 15 U.S. homes is estimated to have elevated levels of radon. Luckily, there are several low-cost and easy options for testing your home, including methods that can be done on your own or with the help of a trained Inspections Unlimited technician. Read more the about radon testing options and services that Inspections Unlimited has to offer. The average level of radon in a home is 1.3 pCi/L. - picocuries per liter (or pCi/L.) is the unit used to measure radon levels. Homes with radon levels of 4.0 pCi/L. or higher are advised that preventative measures should be taken. But any level of radon exposure poses some risk
But how can homeowners reduce radon levels in their home? Common practices include installing radon barriers in the crawlspaces of a home or sealing basements for an airtight environment. Increasing the air flow and movement in your home can also help. Weatherizing a home can be the single most effective way to lower radon levels, in addition to creating a more energy sufficient place to live. Some homeowners might also consider installing a radon reduction system, which is a relatively low-cost and easy option. Newer homes can be built and outfitted with radon-resistant features.
Your local Inspections Unlimited office offers multiple testing options to best fit your needs and timeline. Taking the time to test your home for radon is an important tactic in creating that safe and healthy environment for everyone that lives in the house.