Chances are you don’t worry too much about radon until it is time to buy a home. Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas that comes from the natural decay of uranium, which can be found in nearly all soil types. It can travel through the soil, into the air and into your home through cracks, gaps or the water supply. Radon isn’t picky about the homes it enters, found in all types from new builds to 100-year-old homes. Radon causes approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year, second only to smoking. You can’t see, smell or taste radon. It can take years of exposure before health problems become apparent. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as many as 8 million U.S. homes contain elevated levels of radon.
So, how do you know if your home has radon? Having testing done is the only way to check your home’s radon levels. Some US states already regulate providers of radon measurement and mitigation services by requiring registration, certification or licensing. If your state does not regulate testers, you can buy a radon test kit online or from a home improvement store. When buying or selling, the EPA recommends radon testing before finalizing any real estate transaction. Reported as pCi/l, or pico curies per liter, radon levels of 4pCi/l or higher is unacceptable. If your first test comes back higher than 4pCi,I, you should retest. If a second test also comes back with an unacceptable reading, you will need to take steps to reduce your home’s radon levels.
The most common radon mitigation systems rely on fans. Placed in an attic or outside the building, the fans are used to draw air out from under a crawl space, basement, or concrete slab. The fans reroute gases coming from the soil beneath your house to the outside the structure, far enough they can’t re-enter through the windows. Once your mitigation work is complete, you should have your home retested to ensure the radon is gone.