You want to do everything possible to protect your family and make sure they are healthy, but you might be letting a silent killer into your home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 21,000 deaths annually stem from radon induced lung cancer. This is greater than drunk driving deaths as tabulated by the Center for Disease Control. In fact, radon only trails smoking as the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Is there anything you can do to make sure your family is safe? Yes, there is but first a bit of background information of radon.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas emitted from the Earth’s crust and it is found within every state. The trouble occurs as the radon attempts to escape from the crust into the atmosphere and encounters your home. Instead of dissipating, it seeps in through cracks and holes and begins building up greater and greater concentrations over time. Since the gas is heavy, it is more commonly found at the lower levels of a structure. In fact, radon levels are not a concern if you live on a third floor or higher. Generally, 1 in 15 homes have elevated radon levels although this varies by region of the country.
Radon leads to a greater risk of lung cancer with the risk increasing as you spend more time in your house being exposed to the gas. Smokers are even more at risk than non-smokers.
The insidious thing about radon is that its completely undetectable by human senses. It is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can only be discovered with a radon test kit. These tests are inexpensive and can be purchased at hardware or home improvement stores. In the alternative, you can hire a radon-testing firm to check your radon levels
There are two types of tests – short term and long term. Short term is any test that monitors your home’s air for less than 90 days. The test period can be as short as a few days. When using one of these tests, it is best to place it at the lowest level of your house with all windows and doors shut. Further, cooler months yield better results than warmer months. Long-term tests are preferred for this reason. A long-term test can monitor you home for up to a year and will give you a much better idea of radon levels in your home over that time span.
It will be necessary to install a venting system if you have dangerously high radon concentrations. A contractor can guide you on the type of system you need. Fortunately, such a system can be installed with minimum modification to the home.
Take the first step and have your home tested soon. Your family’s health depends on it!