Home Health Risks: Radon Gas Exposure
What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is formed as a result of uranium decay in the earth’s soil, rock and water. This gas is colorless, odorless, and a carcinogenic agent. Radon gas is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General’s Office estimate that as many as 20,000 lung cancer fatalities are caused by the carcinogenic gas. The EPA also estimates that 1 in 3 homes have Radon gas concentrations that exceed the recommended levels. Many of these homes are exposed to approximately 35 times as much radiation as radioactive waste sites. Despite this Radon gas exposure remains largely undetected as there are no immediate symptoms and poor health conditions may take years to surface.
How Radon Enters a Home
Virtually any home is at risk for Radon gas exposure – history properties and new constructions alike. Radon found in soil gas is the main source of exposure. The gas rises from the ground to the air above and then penetrates the home through cracks and holes in the foundation, where is accumulates undetected over time. Radon commonly enters a home through the following:
Radon can also enter a home through the water or building materials; however, this risk is less likely than air exposure. The EPA estimates that 1 in 3 homes have Radon gas concentrations that exceed the recommended levels. Many of these homes are exposes to approximately 35 times as much radiation as radioactive waste sites.
Testing for Radon Gas
Testing for Radon gas exposure is easy and affordable. Homeowners can purchase a test kit and perform the test themselves or a hire a professional tester. There are two forms of testing for Radon exposure, a short-term and a long-term test.
Prior to conducting either test, close all windows and doors for at least 12 hours and do not operate any ceiling fan or devices that draw in outdoor air. However, exhaust fans may be used for a short period of time during the assessments.
Reducing Radon Gas Levels
Currently, there is no standard safe level of Radon. The EPA recommends methods that will prevent Radon from entering a home altogether. The primary form of prevention is the soil suction method, which draws Radon from the ground and expels the gas outside through a vent pipe system. The vent system can vary depending on a home’s construction and foundation. In addition, sealing any cracks or openings in the foundation is not only a preventative measure, but also helps the vent system work more effectively.
Living with Radon can have dire health consequences on your family. The gas damages lung tissue over time and can lead to serious health conditions, like lung cancer. Proper testing and prevention is within anyone’s reach.
Article Written by +Colby Harris