Most homeowners never know the danger they are exposed to by radon gas. One of the reasons it is dangerous is because it is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. The gas is responsible for over 20,000 deaths every year due to lung cancer. Prolonged exposures to Radon damages the cell linings of your lungs, leading to carcinogenic mutations.
What is Radon?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that results from the breakdown of uranium in the soil. The gas then leaks into the atmosphere through cracks leading to elevated levels within your home.
Homes built under natural soil with uranium deposits tend to accumulate dangerous levels of radon gas. The gas may seep under cracks in the floors, walls, and even construction joints. The gas may then accumulate under your basement or crawl space. The EPA estimates that at least one in every fifteen homes in America has a level above four picocuries per liter (4 pCi/L), which is hazardous to your health.
Dangers of Radon Gas
Radon poisoning is one way your house may make you sick. Continued exposure to Radon gas leads to mutations of DNA within cells of the lung. Carcinogenic mutations lead to the development of lung cancer. If you are still not convinced that radon testing is important, consider the following statistics.
- According to the American Cancer Society, Radon gas exposure leads to approximately 21,000 deaths through lung cancer, only second to cigarette smoking.
- The EPA ranks Radon gas as the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. For smokers, Radon is worse.
- The National Radon Program Services estimates that exposure to radon increases the risk of lung cancer among smokers nine-fold.
- The EPA suggests that the risk of lung cancer increases by 16% per 100Bq/m increase in long time average Radon Concentration.
The only way to determine the levels of Radon in your home is through radon gas testing. Your senses cannot detect the gas. Thus, frequent and random testing of your home, office, school, or water supply is necessary. Experts use various ways to carry out Radon testing.
- Short-term measurements: These tests take about 2-90 days to obtain accurate results, depending on the device used. Most usually involve an activated charcoal-based system to predict average radon exposure accurately. The EPA sets the limit a 4 pCi/L for every 100Bq/m. Any levels above this warrant further testing of your home.
- Long-term measurements: These tests take approximately 90 days to a year using an alpha-particle tracking system. They measure the varying levels through the day to day tests and obtain an annual average value. The results vary based on soil type, moisture, air pressure, gusty winds, and snow cover.
- Continuous Radon testing: Involves the use of electric digital monitors that plug into a standard outlet within your property. The meters may be placed indoors or outside and contain alarms that go off when the levels increase past the set limit.
When your home has high levels of Radon concentration, you should call in professionals to help mitigate your exposure.
Radon gas exposure is harmful to your family’s well-being. Elevated levels may lead to your loved ones developing respiratory problems or even lung cancer. To be on the safe side, always ensure you carry out radon testing and inspection at least twice per year.