You will find that radon is a type of gas which doesn’t have any odor, color or even taste and comes from the natural breakdown or uranium in the ground. There are a couple of ways that you can be exposed to radon; either it can be present in the air of your home or you can find it in your drinking water. So you can get radon into your system by breathing and drinking it. You can also find it in smaller amounts in the air outdoors.
Where does it come from?
Generally you will find that the radon present in indoor air comes from the soil that is underneath your house. The gas is formed as the uranium breaks down and then it seeps into your home. All sorts of properties can be affected including offices, schools and homes. The levels of radon can actually build up to high levels if not dealt with.
Why is ventilation essential for getting rid of radon?
Radon tends to enter the home via the basement which is why it’s important to make sure the basement has been properly ventilated. If you don’t have a good vent system then the radon will not be able to escape and simply enter the rest of your home.
The radon gas also has the ability to dissolve and the build up in the water. If you are using water to have a shower, wash dishes, cook etc then radon can escape into the air. You will find that radon doesn’t appear in water that has come from rivers and lakes because this water hasn’t been underground.
Only a very tiny amount of radon you intake comes from drinking the water. It’s when the radon is released from the water into the air that causes the biggest trouble.
What levels of Radon are safe?
It’s very difficult to say exactly what levels of radon are safe. The EPA want to have community water suppliers limit radon to 4,000 pCi/L. However because most of the radon in properties come from the soil underneath these figures will only have a limited effect.
In terms of radon in the air then you want it to be no more than 4 pCi/L. If your result comes back as 4 pCi/L or more you’ll have to implement some of the techniques outlined in this article and then re-test. The average indoor radon level in the US is 1.3 pCi/L.
How do you prevent Radon from getting into your home?
Because Radon is generally coming from the soil under your home, you need to look at ways of keeping it out. New homes should also be built to prevent radon entering too. There are radon barriers that can be installed under the house, look out for VaporBlock. These barriers will block out radon and also methane.
How do you test for Radon?
If you want to test for radon it’s best to use a testing kit that measures radon in the air because this is the biggest source of radon over drinking water. If the test shows that you have radon levels that are 4 pCi/L or higher then you really need to take action. If radon is a problem in the air then you should do a test for radon in the water too.
If you are about to buy a new home then make sure that radon levels are checked before you buy. The test should be carried out in the lowest part of your home, such as a basement or crawl space. The test can take 48 hours and you should avoid interfering with the test at all and basically keep out of the way.
There are a number of different types of testing that can be done. If you are doing a DIY radon test then you will want one that is a passive test which doesn’t utilize electricity. The test needs to be exposed to the air for a certain length of time before being set to the lab for analysis. These tests are pretty inexpensive and include an activated charcoal radon sampler tray. You then send it in an the enclosed envelope for testing. Make sure there are no hidden lab fees. First Alert radon gas test kits includes the lab testing fee.
What are the health effects?
The reason so many people are worried about radon is because it has been linked to lung cancer. When you breath in the radon gas, it then decays into radioactive particles which in turn become trapped in people’s lungs. The radioactive particles then continue to break down causing small bursts of energy. This is why radon has been linked to lung cancer. If you are a smoker then your risk is increased even more. 20,000 people a year die because they have breathed in the radon and it’s the second biggest cause of lung cancer.
If you want to know more about Radon, visit the official EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/radon/