In low concentrations, radon is harmless.
However, in highly-insulated homes, radon can grow to high levels. So, what
exactly is radon, how dangerous is it, and how do you mitigate it? Let's delve
into these questions.
Radon is a naturally present radioactive gas. In large concentrations, radon can
be extremely toxic. According to the National Cancer Institute, radon is the
second leading cause of lung cancer, making it a health hazard. The United
States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that one in 15 homes in the
U.S. are estimated to have high levels of radon. The amount of radon gas that
emits from the soil into a home depends on a number of factors including
weather, soil moisture, soil porosity and suction in the house itself. Because
of these reasons, radon levels can vary widely from one house to the next.
Radon develops from the natural decay of uranium, which is found in most soils.
Through cracks, holes, and construction joints in your homes' foundation, radon
moves up through the ground and into the air in your home. Radon can also escape
from gaps in service pipes and be detected in your water supply. All things
considered, radon entering your home through the soil offers a greater risk of
higher levels than radon in the water supply.
Because radon is colorless and odorless, you may not know itís in your home
unless you test for it. Do-it-yourself test kits can be purchased in hardware
stores or retail stores or can be found as a mail order kit online. If you have
trouble locating a radon kit, contact your local EPA office to help you obtain
one. Alternatively, you can hire a professional radon inspector to test your
home's radon levels. Once you've tested your home for radon and find that you
have dangerous, or even elevated, levels of radon present in your home, you'll
need to seriously consider radon mitigation.
How to Mitigate Your Radon Risk
Although the EPA considers no level of radon safe, you can reduce your risk by
lowering your radon levels. The US EPA recommends radon mitigation if your radon
test reads equal to or higher than 4 pCi/L, and consider mitigation if your
radon level is greater than 2 pCi/L. The U.S. Congress has recommended a
longer-term goal that indoor radon should be no higher than outdoor levels,
which is about 0.4 pCi/L. The estimated average indoor radon level for homes in
the U.S. is about 1.3 pCi/L.
Fortunately, there are a few proven effective methods to mitigate your radon
risk. One of the most common ways to reduce radon in your home is to use a
radon fan connected to a
suction pipe, which draws radon from beneath your home and vents it outdoors.
Radon mitigation fans can be installed in such areas as the crawl space of a
home, attic, and garage. Radon mitigation fans are an effective method to reduce
radon associated health risks to you and your loved ones. According to the EPA,
for homes that have slab-on-grade foundation or basement, subslab
depressurization using a radon fan connected suction pipe is the generally the
most common and reliable radon mitigation technique.