“What is Radon, and why should I be concerned about it?” This is the first question on every new customer’s mind. Radon has become a hot topic in news and social media for the last two decades, but there are still many unanswered questions. Questions that the experienced staff at River Valley Radon appreciate answering.
In this article you will find a few of our most asked Radon questions, along with our own responses and documentation to help back it up. Our hope is that through proper education we can all become more Radon-wise.
What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring gas. Radon is inert and similar to CO2, Radon cannot be seen or smelled. Radon is scientifically known as Radon-222 and is a breakdown of Uranium and Radium. Radon is labelled as a radioactive element and is also a Group A Carcinogen.
Why is it we are becoming increasingly concerned with a gas that has been around forever?
Radon has always been around, so why are we just now becoming concerned with it’s effects?
The answer here is fairly simple, home construction. Not to shame our ancestors, but the homes they built just didn’t have the energy saving technology that we do now. We can thank modern construction methods and advancements for a lower energy bill each month, but we also have to thank that same construction for our increased concern with Radon.
In the past, homes had a lot of “leaks,” which allowed Radon to more easily exit homes which allowed for much lower levels of Radon concentration. However, with new homes being constructed so “tight,” it has become easier for elevated amounts of Radon to concentrate in our homes.
How does Radon get into my house?
Radon enters your house through soil gases that are created under your foundation. Although there is only one answer to this question, there are many factors that affect the rate at which Radon enters your home and how it acts once it is there. Some of these factors include weather, pressure differentials, home construction and stacking effects.
Because Radon only has one atom it can easily pass through most construction materials easily, including the concrete slab your home is built on. When the ground is pressurized or there is a vacuum in your home, Radon gas will be drawn into your home through your foundation.
What health concerns does Radon pose?
This is a question that we will dedicate a whole article to, but here are a few health facts associated with Radon exposure:
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the Surgeon General’s Office have estimated that as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths are caused each year by radon, making it the second leading cause of lung cancer (second to smoking).
- A family whose home has radon levels of 4 pCi/L is exposed to approximately 35 times as much radiation as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would allow if that family was standing next to the fence of a radioactive waste site. (25 mrem limit, 800 mrem exposure) (according to SSM Health)
- Radon is a Group A Carcinogen
- Radon particles release Alpha Radiation when they reach their half-life. When these reactions occur while Radon is being inhaled, these Alpha particles cause serious damage to lung tissues.
What can I do about Radon?
There are many steps we can take to limit our Radon exposure. You are taking the first step right now by educating yourself. Some of the more common next steps would be to test your home. Home tests can be done by homeowners or a licensed professional. Once you know what amount of Radon you are being exposed to, you can work with a mitigation professional to assess what steps you should take to reduce your Radon exposure. Some of those solutions include; sealing foundation cracks, air exchangers and Radon Mitigation/Reduction Systems.
Radon research is an ongoing effort. The more we discover about Radon and it’s adverse health effects, the more concern there is for public education and action. The experienced, knowledgeable staff at River Valley Radon is here to help answer any questions you may have and to walk you through the process of assessing and addressing your Radon concerns. Give us a call today!