Radon is a serious health hazard – the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. Every property—old and new—is susceptible to elevated levels of this potentially deadly gas. With more than 30 years of industry experience, RadonAway and the nationwide team of contractors from the RadonAway Authorized Professional Network are available to answer your questions about radon and how to protect your property.
What is Radon Gas and Why is it Dangerous?
Radioactive elements, such as uranium, occur naturally in soil and rocks throughout the entire United States and around the world. As these elements decay naturally over time, they are released as a radioactive gas—which can be breathed into the lungs.
When inhaled radon particles break down in the lungs, small bursts of energy are created that can damage the DNA of the lung cells, potentially leading to lung cancer.
What Level of Radon is Considered Safe?
As a radioactive gas, there is no “safe” level of radon exposure—however, the EPA has established guidelines for an “action level” of radon in homes and businesses. The EPA recommends that all properties be tested for radon and stipulates that action should be taken if testing reveals concentrations of 4 pCi/L or above. Further, EPA says to consider taking action at 2 pCi/L.
The World Health Organization recommends that homeowners proceed with steps for radon mitigation whenever levels exceed 2.7 pCi/L.
How Do I Know if My Property is at Risk?
Using the EPA’s 2 pCi/L recommendation, 1 in 6 homes across the country is at the “consider action” level – and 1 in 15 homes is likely to have elevated levels of radon—which means that any property, of any age, is at risk.
The EPA has established “Zones” that divide the country based on level of radon risk. Zone 1 predicts indoor radon levels at greater than 4 pCi/L, Zone 2 predicts levels between 2 – 4 pCi/L, and Zone 3 predicts areas with an average of less than 2 pCi/L.
To find out more about the radon risk in your area, visit www.epa.gov or contact your State Environmental Agency.
What are the Symptoms of High Radon Level Exposure?
Radon is an invisible threat that is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. Despite the high risk it poses for lung cancer, there are no other established symptoms associated with radon exposure. Joint pain, headaches, rashes, coughs, and other signs of illness are not documented with radon.
The only symptom of radon exposure is lung cancer—making it important to test your property regularly.
How Does Radon Get into a Building?
As a naturally occurring substance, radon gas is released from the breakdown of uranium and similar elements—allowing it to enter the home in two ways:
- Soil: The main cause for high radon levels indoors is high radon in the soil around and under the home. Radon gas can seep into the home through cracks, joints, gaps, crawl spaces, and air space cavities in your property—putting your family at risk.
- Water: Radon exposure can also be a concern for homeowners that have a well for their water supply and high radon levels in the soil. As radon seeps into the well water, you will be exposed to radon by inhaling water vapors during bathing, doing dishes, or drinking water from the tap.
How Likely is it that Radon Exposure will Result in Lung Cancer?
The number of lung cancer diagnoses related to radon exposure is still not precisely determined. It is estimated that 21,000+ lung cancer deaths each year are caused directly from radon exposure—making it the second overall cause of the disease.
According to EPA data, seven non-smokers in 1,000 would develop lung cancer from lifelong exposure to levels of 4 pCi/L. For smokers, 62 out of 1,000 would develop lung cancer from the same level of exposure to radon.
The best way to minimize the risk of lung cancer due to radon is by testing your property and taking steps to proceed with mitigation if elevated levels are found.
Should Radon Testing be Done Before Buying/Selling a Home?
With growing awareness of radon as a health hazard, more and more homebuyers are looking at the results of radon testing before purchasing a property. The EPA recommends that all homes being bought or sold should be tested for radon levels—even if radon-resistant construction materials and methods were used.
When selling a home, it is wise to test your property before you put it on the market, so you have the results ready for potential buyers. If a problem is found during testing prior to listing the home, this also gives you time to mitigate the situation before it becomes a potential deal-breaker.
What Can I Expect from the Radon Testing Process?
There are several methods used for radon testing, but the process is quick, easy, and cost-effective to complete. You can test your home for radon through:
- DIY Testing, Typically Done with a Passive Short-Term Test Kit
- Professional Testing by a certified testing professional
Radon testing has minimal impact on your daily life, although there will be requirements surrounding the location of the test and ventilation in the space being tested. Whether you choose a do-it-yourself test or hire a professional, the results of your sample should be evaluated in an approved laboratory for accurate results.
What Should I Do if I Get High Radon Results?
The level of radon in the air outdoors averages 0.4 pCi/L, and the average indoor level is 1.3 pCi/L. If your results are below 2 pCi/L, no further action—with the exception of regular retesting—is needed.
If the results of your radon test are between 2 – 4 pCi/L, then you should consider action by performing a retest or consulting with a radon expert in the RadonAway Authorized Professional Network.
If testing reveals results in excess of 4 pCi/L, it is recommended to retest for confirmation and to get in touch with a certified expert from the RadonAway Authorized Professional Network for radon mitigation services.
What are the Benefits of Installing a Radon Mitigation System?
The primary benefit of a radon mitigation system is lower levels of radon in your home and a reduced risk of lung cancer from radon exposure. You may also experience benefits of a dryer, less humid basement space—which can also boost indoor air quality – particularly if a vapor barrier is used as part of your mitigation system..
The health benefits of a radon mitigation system and the relatively low cost for installation make it a worthwhile investment.
What is the Cost of Installing a Radon Mitigation System?
The total cost of radon mitigation depends on several factors, including your current radon levels, home design, soil conditions, and geographic location. Fortunately, it is an overall affordable process to get a radon mitigation system installed in your home, typically costing significantly less than most home repairs.
The RadonAway Authorized Professional Network offers certified and experienced radon contractors that are competitively priced.
Where Can I Learn More About Radon and Exposure Risks?
Radon.com can provide you with accurate, up-to-date information on radon, testing, and mitigation.