Radon is a colorless and odorless gas. It cannot be tasted, it cannot be seen and it does not have a smell or odor. It is, however, a radioactive gas that can be found in 1 out of 15 homes.
Radon gas is naturally emitted during the breakdown of uranium. It is normally found in rocks, soil, rivers, streams, and oceans. Which in turn leads you to believe it enters the body through the process of ingestion when drinking well water. It can also enter the body by inhalation or breathing in the radon. Remember radon can penetrate a variety of foundation materials in both new and old homes.
Radon also has no immediate symptoms and typically takes years before any health problems are detected. However, long-term exposure to radon has been linked to lung cancer.
The only way to determine if your home has any radon is to test for it. Testing your home for radon is easy and doesn’t cost very much. Check with your local town or City, some jurisdictions offer free radon testing to homeowners and businesses. Here are 3 simple steps to follow:
- Hire a professional (when possible) or;
- Purchase a test kit at a hardware or home improvement store. There are several brands available so a little research into the brand can help keep your mind at ease.
- Read the manufactures recommendation on where to place the kit and for how many days. These are considered “short-term (3-5 days)” testing kits. The general recommendation is to place the test kit in the lowest level of your house where family members may gather. Follow all instructions for a more accurate test and remember different times of the year can affect the results of the test.
- After the designated time has passed – mail the kit to the recommended laboratory for analysis as soon as possible.
- If your results come back higher than the recommended level (of 4) – you should do a second “long-term (90 days)” test. Consider using a professional for the second test.
- If high levels are detected in your home you can reduce the levels of radon to a healthy level by two methods (it is best to hire a professional company who is skilled in this area):
- Sealing the Basement Floor and Walls – this is an inexpensive method or
- Active Soil Depressurization – This is the preferred method and includes installing a pipe that goes through the basement floor to the roof. A fan moves the air and keeps it from entering or staying in the home.
Everyone should test for Radon when buying a new home – or if you live in an old home or drink well water.