You do a lot to protect your home, from installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and buying homeowners insurance to locking your doors at night. However, you may be unaware that an insidious and potentially deadly danger may be lurking in your home: radon, an odorless, radioactive gas produced naturally by uranium decay in rocks and soil.
Without proper testing, there is no way to know whether radon is in your home. Here are three facts you should know about radon.
Radon causes cancer
Radon is “as cancer-causing as tobacco smoke and asbestos,” according to Arizona Foundation Repairs. In fact, it causes 21,000 deaths from lung cancer every year in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates,” the EPA says. “Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.”
The process starts when radon breaks down into radioactive elements called radon progeny, according to the American Cancer Society.
“Radon progeny can attach to dust and other particles and can be breathed into the lungs,” the American Cancer Society says. “As radon and radon progeny in the air break down, they give off radiation that can damage the DNA inside the body’s cells.”
Special testing can detect radon
Radon may be in any house and is slightly more common in lower floors with crawl spaces. The EPA and surgeon general recommend testing any level that is on a third floor or lower.
During your appointment, a certified radon gas measurement specialist will spend about an hour touring your home to determine the best place for each testing kit. The time it will take for a kit to finish its collection process depends on the type. A short-term kit measures radon for 2 to 90 days for quick results. A long-term kit measures the radon level for more than 90 days, which will give a year-round average level for your home.
The results will tell you how many picocuries per liter of radon there are in your home. A safe range is anything below 2 pCi/L. Levels between 2 and 4 pCi/L represent a higher risk of adverse health effects. If your levels are over 4 pCi/L, you should have them lowered with radon mitigation to prevent serious side effects.
High radon levels can be lowered
A company that specializes in radon mitigation can install a depressurization system to reduce radon levels in the air. The system involves a PVC pipe that collects soil gasses and pipes them up to a vent. This works to reduce the “stack effect.”
“The stack effect draws air from beneath your home and up into your living space,” according to Arizona Foundation Solutions. “Depressurizing the soil beneath the structure allows for the radon gas to be redirected.”
Depressurization systems work on any home regardless of whether it has a slab, crawl space, or basement. The pipe can be installed outside or inside. Some newer homes may come with a radon control system already installed.
January is National Radon Action month, an annual reminder for homeowners to test for radon. This year, Arizona Foundation Solutions wants to give back to the community by providing free radon testing to people with homes of 2,000 square feet or less. For more information or to schedule your free test, visit FoundationRepairsAZ.com.