For most homeowners, things like house fires and carbon monoxide are concerning hazards. However, despite being a serious health concern, radon is often not considered. Here are some essential things everyone should know about radon in the home.
What is Radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that naturally occurs when radioactive material in the ground decays. Outside, radon is relatively harmless because the small amount that is released mixes with fresh air, reducing the concentration of the harmful gas. Radon in the home, on the other hand, is very dangerous. In spaces like the basement, the gas can accumulate and lead to serious health problems over time.
Why is Radon Dangerous?
Radon gas weighs more than air, so it naturally settles in the lower levels of a home, like basements. The HVAC system in your house circulates and distributes air throughout the rest of the house, so while the gas may be most concentrated in the basement, radon in the home is still a threat.
If there are elevated radon levels at your property, you have a dramatically increased risk of lung cancer. The longer you’re exposed to radon gas, the higher your chances of developing lung cancer. The danger increases even more if you are a smoker or have other risk factors that make you vulnerable.
Testing for Radon in the Home
If you are buying a new home, the seller will complete various disclosure forms that detail any issues they know about on the property. Depending on your state, they may or may not be legally required to disclose the presence of radon gas. Because radon is invisible and impossible to detect without professional testing, there is a good chance the seller doesn’t know if radon is a problem.
As part of the home inspection process, have a test for radon performed at the property. There are short-term and long-term tests available to detect the precise levels of radon at the moment and the average levels over time. If the radon levels in the home exceed 4 picocuries per liter of air (4pCi/L), your next step is determining the best type of remediation to make the home safe for your family.
Reduce Radon Levels in Your Home
Different mitigation methods are available to circulate the air better and reduce radon levels. Some tactics involve sealing entry points in the basement, like cracks in the floor or foundation or windows that don’t shut firmly. Depending on the radon levels, you may need to have a professional install a fan-powered ventilation system to move radon out of the home.
Be sure to test your home after mitigation and again every two to three years to ensure radon levels stay low and your family is safe.