Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have an elevated radon level. Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.
The answer is simply, YES!
The EPA estimates radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year and recommend:
Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.
Preparing the home for radon measurement is actually quite simple. It is important to maintain closed building conditions for a period of 12 hours prior and during the test. Closed building conditions are considered as follows:
The EPA protocols allow for short term testing for real estate transactions with a minimum of 48 hours of testing of a continuous radon monitor. The Accustar RS800 Continuous Radon Monitor has sensors built in to detect changes in room temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, movement and tampering.
Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. You cannot see, smell or taste radon, but it may be a problem in your home.
Radon is a gas produced by the radioactive decay of the element radium. Radioactive decay is a natural, spontaneous process in which an atom of one element decays or breaks down to form another element by losing atomic particles (protons, neutrons, or electrons).
When solid radium decays to form radon gas, it loses two protons and two neutrons. These two protons and two neutrons are called an alpha particle, which is a type of radiation. Elements that produce radiation are referred to as radioactive. Radon itself is radioactive because it also decays, losing an alpha particle and forming the element polonium.
All homes have some type of radon-entry pathway: There are 4 main factors that permit radon to seep into homes.
Radon enters through:
Radon is a worldwide health risk in homes. Most radon-induced lung cancers occur from low- and medium-dose exposures in people's homes. Radon is the number-one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked.
On January 13, 2005, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General, issued a national health advisory on radon: "Indoor radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to families all over the country. It's important to know that this threat is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established venting techniques."
All of Colorado is in Zone 1, which designates the highest-priority radon zone. Nearly 73% of homes in Colorado have high levels of radon gas. The EPA has stated that homes with elevated levels of radon have been found in all parts of the state and recommends that all homes should be tested regardless of geographic location.
Scientists create radon potential maps by combining a variety of data, such as the locations of rocks containing high levels of uranium, locations of fractures, aero-radioactivity data, soil data on permeability and radon content, and indoor radon data.
Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. The EPA believes that any radon exposure carries some risk - no level of radon is safe. Even radon levels below 4 pCi/L pose some risk. Since 1988, the EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General have issued health advisories recommending that all homes be tested below the third floor for radon. They also recommend fixing homes with radon levels at or above 4 pCi/L, the EPA's national voluntary action level.
The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and about 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air. The U.S. Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no more than outdoor levels. While this goal is not yet technologically achievable in all cases, most homes today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L or below. Even if your test result is below 4 pCi/L, you may want to test again sometime in the future.
Radon reduction systems work and they are not too costly. Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99%. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.
There are several proven methods to reduce radon in your home, but the one primarily used is a vent pipe system and fan, which pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it to the outside. This system, known as a soil suction radon reduction system, does not require major changes to your home. Sealing foundation cracks and other openings makes this kind of system more effective and cost-efficient. Similar systems can also be installed in houses with crawl spaces.
Radon contractors can use other methods that may also work in your home. The right system depends on the design of your home and other factors.
Every new home should be tested after occupancy, even if it was built radon-resistant. If radon levels are still in excess of 4 pCi/L, the passive system should be activated by having a qualified mitigator install a vent fan.