Radon. Why to test? How to test? What’s important?
Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas. It is a naturally occurring radioactive gas released in soil, rock and water from the natural decay of uranium Levels in the outdoors pose a relatively low threat to human health, but radon can accumulate in your home. Radon is the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality in the US and 8th-leading cause of cancer mortality overall. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.
Radon accounts for 37% of ionizing radiation. Radon used to compromise more than 50% of ionizing radiation. CT scans account for more of our ionizing radiation than in past years.
What is radon?
- Radon is invisible, odorless, colorless.
- It naturally occurs outside.
- There’s a long latency period. This means a cancer may occur 15-20 years later.
- Cancers occur in a patient one at a time, not in clusters.
- Difficult to link an individual death to radon exposure.
Where does radon come from? Radon is from the soil and can migrate through invisible cracks in the concrete or where pipes come into a home. Any house that has contact with soil can have increased radon concentration. Radon is naturally drawn into buildings.
What variables are there to the radon concentration? MANY!
- strength of the radon source
- porosity of the soil.
- the distance between soil and the house (is there a crawl space?)
- environmental factors like season, temperature, and wind.
This means that you cannot guess if a single home will have an elevated radon level. Testing is the ONLY way to know if your home has a radon problem. If your neighbor tests, and their home is fine, it does NOT mean that yours is fine.
How to test for radon? The outside doors and windows must be closed 12 hours before and during the test. Best season to test is in the wintertime. Do not put the test kit in the kitchen or bathroom or laundry room as the humidity impairs the testing accuracy. Normal coming-and-going from the home is okay. Less than 4pCi/I shows that there is no radon problem in the home. Retest every 2 years as seismic activity can change the home foundation and the pathway of radon.
What to do if radon is high? Use a certified mitigator who is also a Nevada State licensed contractor. Get two estimates. Radon mitigation systems can be installed in one day. Retest needed after 24 hours to confirm radon level.
RadonNV.com or http://www.epa.gov/radon
http://breathingeasier.info is a well-done 12 minute video