Radon Gas, the second leading cause of Lung Cancer
Today’s real estate live was on a topic that I deal with on a regular basis, but not many people know about. Can you believe that radon gas is the 2nd leading preventable cause of lung cancer in the US? Radon gas is responsible for 21,000 deaths per year in the US alone and next to second hand smoke it’s the leading risk factor for the development of lung cancer in children. John Quigley from Quigley Home Inspections is here with me today to educate you on areas where it’s prevalent, testing and sources for remediation.
There are many Counties and Cities in Maryland that still don’t require radon testing or remediation in rentals and home purchases. It is important to understand what Radon gas is and how it can impact you and your family!
What is Radon Gas?
Radon gas is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. You cannot see, smell or taste radon gas, but it may be a problem in your home. The Surgeon General has warned that radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, you’re at high risk for developing lung cancer. Some scientific studies of radon exposure indicate that children may be more sensitive to radon gas. This may be due to their higher respiration rate and their rapidly dividing cells, which may be more vulnerable to radiation damage.
How Does Radon Gas Get Into Your Home?
Radon gas is produced by the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home can have a potential radon gas problem. This means new and old homes, well sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon gas levels.
Radon Gets in Through:
Cracks in solid floors.
Cracks in Walls
Gaps in Suspended Floors
Gaps in Service Pipes
Cavities inside Walls
The Water Supply
How to Test Your Home for Radon Gas
You can’t see Radon Gas, but it’s not hard to find out if you have a radon issue in your home. Testing can be done in two different methods, short-term testing or long-term testing. The amount of radon gas in the air is measured in “picocuries per liter of air” or “pCi/L”.
You can purchase a do it yourself radon test kit from any hardware or online supplier. The other option is to hire a qualified tester, such as a licensed home inspector to do the testing for you.
- Remain in your home for two days to 90 days depending on device.
- Charcoal canisters, alpha track, electret ion chamber, continuos monitors, and charcoal liquid scintillation are detectors most commonly used in short-term radon testing.
- Because radon gas levels change day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely to tell you your year-round average radon level.
- Remain in your home for longer than 90 days.
- Alpha track and electret detectors are commonly used for this type of testing.
- A long-term test will provide a reading that is more likely to tell you your home’s year-round average radon levels.
What Your Test Results Mean
The average indoor radon gas level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L. About 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found it outside air. The EPA believes that any radon exposure poses some risk and that no radon level is safe. Even radon levels below 4 pCi/L pose some risk. You can reduce your risk of lung cancer by lowering your radon level. Which brings us to our next category on how to lower the radon level in your home.
Mediate if radon levels are 4 pCI/L or higher
Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose risk, and may be reduced.
How to Lower the Radon Level in Your Home
Since there is no known safe level or radon, there is always some risk present. But the risk can be reduced by lowering the levels of radon in your home.
There are several proven methods to reduce the amount of radon present in your home. The system that is primarily used is called a soil suction radon reduction system. The system utilizes a vent pipe system and fan to pull radon gas from beneath the house and vent it to the outside. Sealing foundation cracks and other openings makes this system more effective and cost effiecient. Houses with crawl spaces can also have these types of systems installed.
The cost of reducing radon in your home depends on how your home was built and the extent of the radon problems. The cost to fix can vary; consult with a qualified radon mitigator. Radon mitigators can use other methods that may also work in your home. The right system depends on the design of your home and other factors.