Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that is sometimes found in high concentrations in homes and other buildings. Because radon is difficult to detect, it can accumulate over time and lead to serious health issues. Here are a few important things to know about radon in the home.
Radon is a toxic gas that enters your lungs as you breathe. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after cigarette smoking.
How Does Radon Get into a Home?
Radon is a byproduct of the breakdown of uranium and other radioactive elements in the soil. It can seep up through the ground and enter your home through cracks in the foundation or gaps where electrical wiring or plumbing comes into your home. Once radon begins to accumulate indoors, it can build up to dangerous levels.
Testing for Radon in the Home
Unfortunately, some people only become aware of radon in the home when they begin to experience health-related symptoms. These might include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, pain or tightness in the chest, hoarseness of voice, and trouble swallowing. People with these symptoms should contact their doctor immediately for guidance.
There are tests that can be performed to determine if radon is in the home. While you can find DIY radon tests at home improvement stores, it’s best to hire a professional to perform a radon test. Professionals use advanced equipment and are trained to deliver more accurate results than you’ll get from a DIY test kit.
Regardless of which test you use, if your results show high levels, you will need to take necessary actions to mitigate radon in your home and keep your family safe.
Reduce the Risk of Radon
To reduce your exposure, hire a radon professional to install a mitigation system. This often consists of a vent pipe and fan and sealing gaps and cracks in the home’s foundation. Crawl spaces should have the soil covered with plastic. If any holes or tears occur, the plastic will need to be replaced as soon as possible. These methods help trap the gas and prevent it from mixing with the indoor air.
Use radon-resistant materials around the home to reduce exposure. If you are building a new home or renovating, use these materials to prevent radon from entering the home in the future.
Radon is a dangerous gas, and even after reducing the levels in your home, you should still have the house tested periodically to verify it is safe. Order a professional test to guarantee accurate results. When purchasing a home, ask your home inspector to conduct a radon test as part of your buyer’s inspection before you close on the sale.