Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that is formed from the natural breakdown of uranium in the earth. Though you can’t see it or smell it, radon can enter your home through cracks in your foundation, well water, building materials and other sources, where it can contaminate the air you breathe. Scary enough because radon is actually radioactive, it’s also carcinogenic; radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, second only to smoking. Testing your home for radon is simple, and if levels are elevated there are ways to reduce them to protect your health.
You and your family are exposed to radon in your home, at the office, at school, in commercial buildings. It is present in any structure you enter. Radon in the outside air disperses before it reaches high levels of concentration, but in tightly sealed or poorly ventilated indoor spaces, even low levels of radon can accumulate and pose a significant health hazard. Soil radon levels vary widely across the United States and depend on the geology of the area. Regions of the Mid-Atlantic States and the upper Midwest tend to have higher radon levels than those found in the southeast and west into Texas, and along most of the west coast. The radon gas emitted by soil and rock can seep into buildings through gaps in the foundation, construction joints, and through cracks in floors and walls. Since radon levels are highest in rooms closest to the ground, if you spend a lot of time in basement rooms at home, work or school, your risk for exposure could be greater.
You might still be wondering where it comes from. As mentioned, radon in your home can originate from a number of sources, including outside air that seeps into your home through cracks in the foundation, walls and floors, as well as your well water. Radon exposure can also come from certain building materials, including: Silicone-rich magmatic rocks, particularly granite, and especially the more exotic granites like the red, pink and purple varieties. Gypsum waste products contain radon. Cement and concrete are very common and also contain it. Pumice and Basaltic rock also have Radon. So you can see how common it is.
There are a number of resources for test kits to find out what your levels are. Even though a disclosure is signed, it may not be something you actually check. If you’d like a certified technician to measure the radon levels in your home or other indoor environment, you can contact the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists. Testing costs anywhere from $100 to $300. You can also obtain information on certified technicians and do-it-yourself testing from the EPA.v State and regional information can be found there. The National Radon Program Services at Kansas State University offers discounted test kits available to purchase online. Other do-it-yourself test kits for radon run between $20 and $30 and can be purchased online and at your local hardware store.
I have seen the disclosure several times but never took it too serious. After doing the research, I now see that it can be a serious problem. Getting it check is certainly worth the effort. Although disclosures can be an inconvenience, they all have meaning. Hopefully this alerts some people to check out possible Radon contamination in their homes. There are a variety of ways to reduce radon levels in your home. Sealing cracks in floors and walls. Increasing ventilation through sub-slab depressurization with pipes and fans. Removing granite countertops if they are emitting high levels of radon. Replacing ionization smoke detectors with the photoelectric type. The cost of radon reduction measures depends on the size and design of your home and the specific methods needed. Costs range from $800 to $2,500, with an average cost of $1,200. Radon reduction systems may be able to reduce your home’s radon levels by 99%. That is a huge reduction and well worth it.