National Radon Action Month
What is tasteless, colorless, odorless and the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers in the United States? Radon. January is National Radon Action Month, a month designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action against radon.
What is radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural decay of uranium in rocks and soil. Radon occurs naturally outdoors in all types of rocks and soils in harmless amounts but can become concentrated in homes built on soil with natural uranium deposits. Radon moves up through the ground to the air and into homes through cracks and holes in the foundation. Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have elevated radon levels.
Why do you need to test for it?
Radon decays quickly, giving off tiny radioactive particles. When inhaled, these particles can damage cells that line the lungs either by causing DNA breaks or damage. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer. Other adverse respiratory effects associated with chronic exposure to radon include emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, chronic interstitial pneumonia, silicosis, and respiratory lesions.
How do you test for it?
The only way to know whether radon is a problem in your home is to test for it. The EPA urges testing if a home has not been tested for radon in the past two years. Homes that are next door to each other can have different indoor radon levels; therefore, a neighbor’s radon test is a poor predictor of radon risk. You can test your home yourself through “do-it-yourself” radon test kits (available online and from local and state health departments and home improvement stores) or hire a qualified radon test company.
How do you remediate it?
The EPA recommends taking action when the level of radon in a home is more than 4 picocuries per liter of air. There are simple solutions to fixing radon problems in homes. Some techniques prevent radon from entering the home and other techniques reduce radon levels after it has entered the home (i.e., subslab suction, drain-tile suction, sump-hole suction, block-wall suction, submembrane suction, sealing, home/room pressurization, heat recovery ventilation, and natural ventilation).
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