Monday, April 2, 2012

Radon: Is It Hiding in Your House?

Did you know that about twice as many people die each year from radon exposure than from drunk driving accidents, falls in the home, drownings or home fires, according to the Enivronmental Protection Agency? Did you know that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking? It’s true.

Radon is a toxic gas that is created when certain elements found in soil naturally decay. When this happens, radon moves up through the soil and into the air above. From there, radon can enter your home through cracks in walls and floors, construction joints, gaps in suspended floors and around pipes, and cavities inside walls. Once it has gotten into your home, the radon becomes trapped and starts to build up.

Any home can have a radon problem. Old or new, drafty or well-sealed, basement or no basement, it makes no difference. Even if your home is in an area that does not have a history of radon problems, you may still be at risk.

That is why it is extremely important to test your home for radon. If you have never tested your home, you should ASAP. If you have tested your home before, it is important to keep in mind that you should retest every two years.

Testing for radon is a quick and easy process. You can get radon test kits in most hardware and some other retail stores. Most tests ask you to simply leave them for a few days in the lowest lived-in area of your home. In many cases this will mean the main floor of your home. However, if you have a basement that sees a lot of use or has a bedroom in it, then it should be tested instead.

Once the recommended amount of time has gone by, you will send your test to a lab that will send you back the results. Radon is measured in “picocuries per liter of air” or “pCi/L.” According to the EPA, you want your results to be below 4 pCi/L. If your results are higher than that, you will want to do another test.

If you find that both tests show that you have more than 4 pCi/L, you will want to have a radon vent installed in your home. This vent will suck any radon out of your home and push it back outside. These systems have been proven to be very effective and can eliminate as much as 99% of the radon in your home.

Remember, radon is a gas; it cannot be seen or smelled, so it is very easy to expose yourself without ever knowing it. That is why it is so important to get out to your nearest hardware store and get testing!

By Shawn McNally

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