Radon is a dangerous gas that can cause a host of lung and respiratory problems over the long-term. Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium and is found in soil, air, and water. It is a noble gas, which means it is colorless, odorless, chemically inert, and undetectable to human senses. The fact that it does not react with other elements, is undetectable, and that it takes a long time for radon exposure symptoms to appear makes it all the more dangerous. There’s no way to know if radon is in your home without testing for it. But how does radon enter the home in the first place?
There are two reasons why radon enters a home. They have to do with the facts that:
As uranium breaks down in the soil, it forms radium, which decays to form radioactive radon gas. Since radon is a gas, it rises up through the soil and floats around in the air. This wouldn’t be such a problem as it is easily dispersed in the open air. The problem comes as it rises through the soil near homes; it is drawn to areas of lower pressure (following the path of least resistance), which just so happens to be the inside of your home! Once inside, radon gets trapped and can build up to dangerous levels. It’s common for radon levels to be higher in winter and lower in summer. This is attributed to the fact that people are more likely to have windows and doors open in the summer, providing greater ventilation and movement of air through the house.
Since radon is a gas it is very easy for it to enter homes through even the smallest of cracks. Homes of all ages can be affected, though older homes are at higher risk. This is due to the fact that older homes have shifted and settled, cracks may have formed in the foundation, and radon mitigation methods may not have been used when the home was built. But this does not mean that new homes don’t have a risk of radon. All homes are at risk.
Some of the most common ways radon enters a home include:
Since radon enters from the ground, the lowest levels of the home, like basements and crawlspaces, often have the highest concentrations of the gas.
Before you panic, there are steps you can take to reduce the level of radon in your home. The first thing to do is get your home tested for radon. Testing kits are available at hardware stores and cost anywhere from $10 to $50. There are two types of kits available: short-term and long-term. Alternatively, you could buy a kit online. Either way, you’ll need to follow the test instructions and send the kit off to a lab to be analyzed. This is the only way to find out if and how much radon is in your home.
Radon levels vary from state to state, from county to county, and even from home to home. Just because your neighbor’s house has an elevated level of radon doesn’t mean yours does and vice versa.
If your test results come back showing high levels of radon, you can hire a radon mitigation company to help reduce those levels. Licensed contractors offer solutions that help prevent radon from entering a home and removing radon that is already present.
Radon exposure is a health hazard that gets more serious over time. Our best advice is to get your home tested and if levels are too high, contact a radon mitigation contractor to help fix the problem.
Read more about radon, here.
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