A number of hazards can present themselves to homeowners, from floods to electric fire to carbon monoxide poisoning, but one lesser known hazard is radon gas. Many people get sick or die from exposure to this heavy element every year, but radon gas testing can be done to ensure that a home’s air is not poisoned, and if it is, the homeowner will know right away to contact a radon mitigation company or a pump to remove the bad air. What is radon, and how does it get into the home? What can be done to detect it and remove it?
The Dangers of Radon
Radon is a heavy, colorless, odorless gas that is nearly impossible to detect with human senses, but it can cause great harm to homeowners over time if it seeps into the house in high enough concentrations. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, together with the Surgeon General’s office determined that around 20,000 lung cancer deaths are caused by radon poisoning annually. A home, if it has over 4 pCi/L units of radon, is in the danger zone of radon concentration, and the EPA stated that around a third of the homes that were checked in seven states and three Native American lands had a deadly concentration level of 4 or higher. Put in other terms, if the family members in a home are exposed to radon levels of 4pCi/L, they are being exposed to 35 times the radiation amounts that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would allow if those people were standing by the fence of a radioactive waste site. In fact, it is believed that one in 15 American homes have radon levels at or higher than the EPA’s action level, and lung cancer can be among the more dire consequences of constant exposure, especially among smokers.
Radon Gas Testing
If a home is suspected to have too much radon gas in it, then radon gas testing is the next step to take. According to Health Finder, homeowners can hire professionals to handle the testing, and renters can ask their landlords to perform the test. Residential radon testing is done either on short term (between 2 and 90 days) or long term (more than 90 days(. If time permits, a longer testing time period is encouraged, as the results will be more accurate.
Radon testing companies can handle all of this work, but a homeowner or renter can also perform radon gas testing alone, and buy a kit at a hardware store or online without much trouble. The testing device should be placed in the lowest level in the house where people spend time, either in the basement storage area or at the first floor, in a room that is fairly dry. Radon comes from the earth and moves upwards and through cracks in rock and through the soil, so concentrations of this gas will be highest at the lowest levels in the home, but the gas can spread beyond that. Also, if the home was recently remodeled or if the heating and air conditioning system was updated, then performing radon gas testing is a good idea.
If dangerous levels of radon are detected, then it is time to take action before the radon can pose a further health hazard. Professionals can be contacted who specialize in work like this, and an Internet search should yield local companies. They may seal cracks of holes in the lowest floors where radon gas can leak, and the air in a house may be cycled for fresh air with all the windows and doors opened while fans blow.