What is Radon?
Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. The release of this radioactive gas enters the air you breathe, causing a potential health risk to you and your family. High levels of Radon have been found in every state in the United States. One in Fifteen homes in the US has radon levels above 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L).
What you should know about Radon
Radon is a cancer causing radioactive gas. You cannot see radon and you cannot smell it or taste it, but it may be a problem in your home. This is because when you breathe air-containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
You should test for radon. Testing is the only way to find out about your home’s radon level. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing of all homes below the third floor for radon.
You can fix a radon problem. If you find that you have high radon levels, there are ways to fix a radon problem. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.
If you are buying a home. EPA recommends that you obtain the radon level in the home you are considering buying. An EPA publication “The Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide” is available through most State Health Departments or Regional EPA offices listed in your local phone book. EPA also recommends that you use a certified or state licensed radon tester to perform the test. If elevated levels are found it is recommended that these levels be reduced. In most cases, a professional can accomplish this at reasonable cost or homeowner installed mitigation system that adheres to the EPA’s approved methods for reduction of radon in a residential structure.
The four counties surrounding Atlanta (Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett) are classified as Zone 1 areas by the EPA. This means that these areas are the highest risk areas for having elevated levels of Radon.
What are the Risk Factors?
The EPA, Surgeon General and The Center for Disease Control, have all agreed that continued exposure to Radon gas can cause lung cancer.
In fact, their position on the matter is that all homes should be tested for radon gas exposure, and all homes testing over 4 pCi/L should be mitigated.
How Does Radon Enter the Home?
Typically the air pressure inside your home is lower than the pressure in the soil around your home’s foundation.
Due to this difference, your house acts like a vacuum, drawing radon gas in through foundation cracks and other openings of your home.
Radon may also be present in well water and can be released into the air in your home when water is used for showering and other household uses.
How Does Radon Enter the Body?
Radon and its decay products are inhaled and become lodged in the lungs where they can radiate the cells lining the respiratory system. The radioactive decay products of radon emit alpha particles, which are damaging to these tissues. Exposure to elevated levels of radon greatly enhances the risk of lung cancer. Even small exposures to radon can result in increased cancer risk. Smoking combined with radon poses a very serious risk.
Potential Radon Entry Points in a House:
Radon Testing as a Part of the Real Estate Transaction:
If you are thinking of buying a home, you should have a radon test done before purchase. We recommend using a Radon Measurement Specialist to administer the radon test, according to EPA protocols.
Glenn Welch, PE is certified by the National Radon Safety Board (NSRB) and we use solid state continuous monitoring equipment built by Sun Nuclear Corporation in Melbourne, Florida.
Cost of Testing and Duration:
The cost of a continuous monitored radon test is $200 if it is included in the home inspection process or $250 if the test is independently performed. The air is tested every hour for radon gas over a three day period. At the end of the testing period, a certified report is generated in an Adobe pdf format that is emailed to the client and followed in the mail by a hard copy. For additional information go to www.epa.gov/radon and www.neha-nrpp.org.