Radon gas is produced when radioactive materials like uranium, radium, or thorium decay in the earth's crust. It poses a threat to your health since it can seep into your home through crevices in the walls and floor. Some people claim they don't know about the dangers of radon, while others say the gas is impossible to eradicate and won't have an effect everywhere in the country.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can seep into a home through cracks in the foundation. Long-term exposure to high radon levels can cause lung cancer, so having the levels evaluated is a smart idea whether purchasing or selling a house. Here's some information you need to know.
Why Is Testing Your Home for Radon Important?
Radon is odorless and invisible, therefore you need a test to know if it's present. A radon test can tell you if your home has a radon problem and if so, what steps to take to reduce the radon levels inside to protect your health.
Cracks and cracks in the foundation are major entry points for radon into dwellings. Once it enters, it often cannot be removed. A radon test is the only method to know for sure if the gas is present in your house, as radon is invisible and odorless. In the United States, radon has been found in both brand-new and older dwellings. If you have a high radon level in your home, there are ways to reduce it.
Since radon is odorless and tasteless, its presence may go undetected until it is too late and lung cancer symptoms have developed.
There are also additional symptoms, such as shortness of breath, coughing, exhaustion, loss of appetite, edema, and so on, that point to radon-induced lung cancer. Keep in mind that animals too might suffer from radon exposure. Animals are often more susceptible to radon than humans are because they spend more time on the ground and may be less likely to leave the house than you.
It is also possible for radon to infiltrate your home through the water system, though at a considerably lower risk than when it comes through the soil. Your private well radon levels can be checked. If the radon levels are high, you can prevent it from entering your home by treating the water supply. If you have concerns about radon and your water comes from a public water system, you should contact them.
Whether your property has a basement, crawlspace, or none at all, and what kind of radon mitigation equipment you need can greatly affect the total cost of radon mitigation.
It's vital to remember that home inspections aren't limited to the buying and selling process. It should be a standard element of your house upkeep schedule.
Myth 1 – Radon Is Harmless
Radon is a radioactive gas that can cause major health problems in homes, despite common belief to the contrary. Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally but cannot be detected by the human senses since it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Inhaling radon increases one's risk of developing lung cancer because it can harm DNA in lung tissue. Radon is responsible for around 21,000 annual lung cancer fatalities in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Exposure to even moderate amounts of radon is dangerous. If the radon level in your house is more than 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises you to take measures to lower it. However, exposure at concentrations lower than 4 pCi/L can still be harmful over time. Lung cancer risk from radon exposure varies with the amount of radon present, the duration of exposure, and the individual's smoking or nonsmoking history.
If you reside in an area known to have a high radon potential, or if you have never had your house tested previously, you should get a radon test. There is a plethora of easy, low-cost options for conducting tests. Radon levels in a residence can be estimated using short-term tests that take only a few days to complete. The EPA suggests continuous monitoring because it gives a more reliable picture of long-term radon levels.
Myth 2 – Radon Cannot Be Fixed in All Homes
Any house, regardless of age, foundation, or geographic location, is a candidate for a radon mitigation system. These devices can reduce indoor radon levels by as much as 99% by piping the gas outside using a fan. Sub-slab depressurization systems, which are installed in a home's basement or crawl space, are the most prevalent type of radon mitigation device. This setup generates a suction beneath the house, releasing the radon gas outside.
Other radon mitigation systems include sub-membrane depressurization systems, which are installed in homes with dirt floors in the crawl space, and air-to-air heat exchangers, which bring in fresh air and release stale air that contains radon.
Myth 3 – Radon Tests Are Costly and Time-Consuming
Radon testing are not as time-consuming or expensive as commonly believed. Tests for the presence of radon in a home can be conducted for a low cost and in a short amount of time, and the results can be quite informative. A charcoal canister or electret ion chamber is part of the conventional short-term radon test kit, which can be obtained for around $10-$30 at most hardware stores or online. The process of taking the test and receiving the results only takes a few days.
The EPA recommends long-term radon testing, which can take anywhere from three months to a year to do but is still simple and cheap. Since radon levels can change over time owing to weather, ventilation, and other variables, long-term testing can provide a more accurate picture of the average radon level in a residence. Homeowners who are worried about the long-term effects of radon exposure can benefit greatly by conducting long-term testing.
It's also important to note that many governments, both federal and municipal, provide radon testing kits to homes for free or at a very cheap cost. As an illustration, the state governments of Illinois and Minnesota both provide low-cost or free radon test kits to residents.
Myth 4 – Radon Affects Only Some Homes and Regions
Another common fallacy about radon is that testing is unnecessary for newer, older, or specific types of homes. Put another way, this is not true. Any home in Canada, regardless of age, size, or value, may have dangerously high radon levels.
New houses have some of the highest average radon levels ever measured, according to our study, so testing is the only way to ensure yours is radon-free. Wait at least 18 months after a new home's foundation has been laid before beginning your test. This is because your foundation needs at least that much time to "cure" (i.e., dry completely and, consequently, shrink slightly at the margins) before it can be applied. Once this is done, and only then, can a home's radon levels settle.
As a naturally occurring gas, radon can be found in the United States at varied amounts. Although radon levels tend to be higher in certain areas, it is present in every structure. One in fifteen homes in the United States has radon levels higher than the EPA's action level of 4 pCi/L, according to their research.
Myth 5 – Everyone Must Test Their Water for Radon
It's worth noting that not every house has its own water well; many instead get their water from the public supply. Before it reaches people's taps, water in public systems is often treated to get rid of impurities like radon. Therefore, people who live in homes that are connected to public water systems are not typically at risk of drinking water with very high radon concentrations.
But if you have a private well and you live in an area where radon levels in the soil are known to be high, you should have your water tested for radon. The use of water for things like bathing, cooking, and washing dishes can emit radon into the air. This can lead to elevated radon levels within the house.
The Environmental Protection Agency suggests radon testing of private well water every five years. Radon water testing kits are available to homeowners from hardware and home improvement stores, as well as from numerous online vendors. These kits are cheap and easy to use. Following the instructions to the letter is essential for getting accurate results.
If radon is found at unsafe levels in a home's private well, the family can take preventative measures. In order to reduce radon levels in water, aeration is the most popular technique. This is done by agitating the water using an aeration system, which releases the radon into the air and allows it to be safely expelled outdoors. Carbon can also be used to remove radon from water using a process called granular activated carbon filtration.
In conclusion, most people don't need to worry about radon in their drinking water, but those who have private wells should get it tested at least once every five years to make sure it's still safe to drink. Homeowners can limit their exposure to radon by installing aeration or carbon filtration systems if excessive levels are detected.
Myth 6 – Testing for Radon After Living in the Home for Many Years Won’t Make Sense
Falsehood: It makes no sense to test for radon after a long period of occupancy. In fact, radon testing for a home should be done at any time. Since uranium and other radioactive elements in the soil degrade over time, they release radon as a byproduct. It can enter houses through crevices in the foundation, walls, and flooring, eventually reaching unhealthy concentrations.
Radon levels fluctuate throughout time for a number of reasons, including shifts in the surrounding soil and ventilation patterns in the home. It is possible for radon levels to rise over time, even if a residence has previously been tested and confirmed to have low levels. As a result, radon testing should be performed every two to five years, or after any substantial changes are made to the home.
Myth 7 - It's Hard to Sell a Home If It's Had Radon Problems
It is possible to sell a house with radon problems. A properly mitigated home for radon can even be an asset in the real estate market. Buyers who are aware of the dangers of radon are more likely to offer a higher price for a home that has already had a radon mitigation system installed.
However, it might be challenging to sell a home if radon has not been effectively controlled. Most people looking to buy a house will want to have a radon test done first, and if the results come back positive, they may decide not to buy the house. It's possible that a deal will go through only if the seller agrees to lower the price or cover the cost of radon mitigation.
Homeowners should have their houses tested for radon and, if necessary, have a radon mitigation system installed before listing their properties for sale to avoid any complications. Potential purchasers may appreciate the added security, and the home's value may rise as a result. Any radon problems, even if they have been fixed, should be brought to the attention of prospective buyers.
Some homeowners appear reluctant to pursue radon mitigation for fear that doing so will cause buyers to have second thoughts about the quality of the air in their property. However, this is completely false. The widespread installation of these systems over the past few decades has shown their safety and increased property value.
Radon mitigation systems, which show that the homeowner has taken action to enhance the indoor air quality and minimize the risk of lung cancer for the tenants, are increasingly seen as a selling point in today's real estate market.
Both the Canadian and American real estate markets have reported that radon mitigation systems have not deterred interest in any listed properties.
Is it tough to test for radon?
Some homeowners put off radon testing even after learning about its importance because they think it would be too difficult, too costly, or too time-consuming. Accurate radon testing is actually rather simple: acquiring the necessary equipment is quick and cheap, and the test itself takes only a few minutes to set up and return to collect results.
An alpha-track device is a great option for testing the radon levels in your house since it provides accurate readings for 90 days or more, sometimes even a full year. They're no bigger than a hockey puck and won't drain your home's electricity supply.
To further inform Canadians on the risks of radon exposure, the Evict Radon National Study is conducting a citizen science study that has been approved by a research ethics board. If you sign up for our service, we'll send you a free testing kit. In addition to receiving your kit, you will have the opportunity to contribute to our cancer research programs by providing us with data and information that is being used to improve national health and reduce the future burden of cancer.
In sum, radon represents a risk to human health that should not be ignored. There are many misconceptions about radon, but knowing the truth will help you and your family avoid potential health risks. There is no safe level of radon exposure, and the radioactive gas can enter homes of any age or location. Radon testing is easy and cheap, and it is usually possible to get rid of the problem. It is never too late to get your house tested for radon, and doing so on a yearly basis is recommended to keep radon levels at an acceptable level. Everyone can do their part to protect themselves and their loved ones from this silent killer by learning the facts about radon and taking preventative measures to lower radon levels in their homes.