Posts Tagged ‘radon levels’
Effects of High Radon Levels
You may have heard of radon, but not really understand what it is or how it can impact your family. Radon is simply a radioactive noble gas. It is quite dense and has no taste and no odor. When elements like uranium and thorium decays, they create radon gas as a byproduct. When the radon gas itself begins to decay, radioactive elements called radon daughters start to emerge. These daughters are not gaseous, but tiny solid particles. They can cling to dust in the air and travel into your lungs when you breathe. Afterwards, they can stick to the walls of your airways, causing a variety of health problems.
Buildings can fill with radon gas that is emitted naturally from the soil and rock beneath the foundation. Poorly ventilated rooms, of course, fill with radon gas the most quickly, but any building can be vulnerable to radon contamination. Basements are often the most common location for elevated radon levels. Breathing elevated radon levels has been directly linked to lung cancer. With the exception of smoking cigarettes, radon is the most common cause of lung cancer, resulting in over 20,000 deaths a year in North America. Many of the people who die this way have never smoked a cigarette in their lives, making radon the top cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
Detecting High Radon Levels in Your Home
Radon levels cannot be detected by your senses since the gas is odorless and colorless. However, there are other ways to measure radon levels. For example, you can purchase personal use home radon test kits. Many of these kits use charcoal or foam to collect radioactive particles that may be floating in the air. Other test options are more long term, and may take up to three months to complete. The best option is to have experts from SWAT Environmental professionally test your home. The results of a professional test are both much faster and much more accurate than those from a typical home test.
New homes can be designed to prevent elevated radon levels in the first place. However, if your home did not have this type of system installed during its construction, you should have your home’s radon levels tested regularly. If these levels ever become dangerously elevated, you can have SWAT Environmental’s specialists analyze your home to determine how best to expel the radon gas from your house, as well as how to prevent it from returning. This process is known as radon mitigation. Different homes can require significantly different radon mitigation techniques and systems to most effectively handle their radon levels.
Elevated radon levels are a threat that you should take very seriously. That being said, testing your home for radon is affordable and easy. If your home does contain higher radon levels than what is considered safe for human exposure, eliminating it could potentially save your life.
Frequently Asked Questions about Radon Mitigation
What is radon?
Radon is a dense, radioactive chemical element that exists mainly as a gas. It is invisible, colorless and odorless. Radon gas often accumulates in low-lying areas, such as basements, and exists in many homes without the knowledge of the house’s occupants. Radon gas has been identified as a carcinogen, and has been linked to cases of lung cancer across the country.
Where does radon gas come from?
Radon gas is a byproduct of the natural decay of uranium and similar elements. These elements can be found naturally in certain types of rock, including granite, igneous and limestone, as well as in soil and water. Hot springs can also contain high concentrations of radon.
Although humans are susceptible to ingesting radon by drinking contaminated water, the risk of ingesting significant traces is usually fairly small. It is also possible to consume radon by eating agricultural products that are grown in radon-contaminated soils, but the risk of eating foods that contain high concentrations is also low. Radon poses the most serious threat to humans when it is inhaled. Radon gas can make its way into a home by slipping through cracks in the foundation that lead to the outside. Any pathway that air could take is one that radon could also potentially use.
What types of environments are likely to contain radon?
In general, underground environments have the greatest probability of containing high levels of radon gas. Places such as tunnels and mines are at the greatest risk of accumulating radon. As dangerous as basement radon levels can be, they are usually only a fraction of the strength of radon in underground mines. This is why miners and other underground workers are warned of the potentially severe health risks of the job before they sign an employment contract.
How do I know if there is radon gas in my home?
It can be very difficult to tell if you have radon gas in your house since radon gas does not exhibit properties that are identifiable by human senses. Home radon test kits are commonly available. The short-term kits include a device that is placed in the lowest level of the home. It is left there for several days to absorb the radon, and then sent off to be analyzed. This type of kit is inexpensive and easy to acquire. Long-term radon kits are also produced, and the collectors that come with these sit for up to a year. Long-term kits are more costly, but they are also more accurate. However, a professional test from SWAT Environmental radon mitigation is much faster and more reliable than either type of home test.
If radon gas is found in my home should I look into radon mitigation?
If your home contains more radon gas than is safe, you should have specialists from SWAT Environmental begin radon mitigation as soon as possible. The most effective radon mitigation method is the installation of specialized equipment to improve ventilation in your house, especially in its lower levels. To completely protect your family, other techniques may be necessary as well; SWAT Environmental’s experts will be able to determine the optimal radon mitigation setup for your home.