We all know to be wary of lead or carbon monoxide or mercury, but do we know about the dangerous effects of radon? Many people may not even know that radon testing is a thing, much less how to get rid of radon if it’s found in their home. If you’ve never had your home tested for radon, it’s worth getting in touch with a residential radon testing company and having them come out for a radon testing and inspection of your home. Around 1 in 15 homes in the United States is projected to have radon levels right at or above the action level set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Let’s discuss why you should be aware of radon, the danger it poses to you and your family’s health, and what you can do to protect yourself.
What is Radon and Why is It Harmful?
Radon is a type of radioactive gas, that like carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless. It’s made by uranium decaying and is in most soils and trace amounts are in the air that we breathe as well. It’s harmful when it’s trapped in your home and you and your family are exposed to it over a long period of time.
According to the Surgeon General, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in our country today. The Surgeon General’s office, together with the Environmental Protection Agency, approximate that almost 20,000 deaths from lung cancer are due to radon each year.
Being aware of your home’s radon levels, testing for radon, and taking steps to mitigate it in your home could help save your life in the long run.
How Can I Test For Radon?
There are three main types of tests for radon that a radon testing company will help you carry out. These are short-term testing, long-term testing, and continuous testing.
Short-term radon detectors will keep track of radon levels for as little as two days and for as long as 90 days, depending on what type of detector you purchase. Long-term tests calculate the radon concentration present in your home for a time period that’s over 90 days. Continuous testing involves a detector that plugs into a wall outlet and samples the air in your home regularly, but can also help serve as a short-or-long term detector.
You’re most likely to use short-term tests to see if you need to get any more tests done, or if your radon levels are okay. The tests should be mailed to a lab to analyze the final results and can be purchased at many home improvement centers or hardware stores. You can also order them online, if that’s more convenient.
Long-term tests keep an eye on radon levels for as long as a year and show the average annual amount of radon present in your home, as it can fluctuate depending on external factors. These you’ll need to buy either from a state radon agency or online.
Continuous radon tests will need to be purchased online.
What Happens if Harmful Levels of Radon Are Found In My Home?
If a radon testing company finds harmful levels of radon in your home, you need to take action right away. Scientists estimate that the number of deaths from lung cancer could be cut by as much as 4% if home radon levels were lowered to the EPA’s action level. That’s almost 5,000 incidents of lung cancer that could be eliminated!
Caulking foundation cracks and other openings with polyurethane caulking, putting an airtight cover on your sump pump, and covering up soil in your crawl space using polyethylene sheeting are all proven ways to help keep radon levels from rising in your home. After these steps have been taken, call the radon testing company back to retest.
You can also look into installing a radon eradication system — a good move especially if you find high levels of radon in your home.
Keep yourself safe and be aware of the dangers of radon. Remember that the negative effects of radon are cumulative, so while it’s important to take action quickly, it’s not immediately life-threatening.