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The Dangers of Radon

how radon comes into a home

What is radon and what can we do to prevent it?

When buying a new home you might hear talk about radon and think, what exactly is radon and should I be concerned? This is definitely a topic where having a bit of knowledge can protect your family’s health. The truth is, radon is indeed a dangerous radioactive cancer-causing gas which you cannot see, smell or taste. It occurs naturally in the environment and can enter your home through cracks in floors and walls, construction joints or gaps around service pipes, electrical wires and sump pits. It is essentially naturally decaying uranium that seeps up to the surface. If radon is present in your home, the highest levels are usually concentrated in basements.

The Surgeon General warns that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. There are no known short-term radon exposure symptoms. It takes years of contact to radon at fairly high levels before you are likely to develop any symptoms. Trace amounts of radon can be found in all 50 states in the U.S. but certain areas tend to have a higher concentration levels.

United States radon levels

Based on data via

However there is good news! While radon is certainly not something you should overlook there are "acceptable" levels that are considered non-toxic (under 4 picocuries per liter).

Testing your house for radon yourself is possible for around $30 with a home kit from your local hardware store or online. There are also professionals that perform the test which often are included as part of the new home inspection process anyway and may cost up to $300.00 but can be well worth it since they are experts in radon inspections and their knowledge could be lifesaving.

More good news: If a test determines there are unsafe levels of radon in your home, please don't panic! There are ways to lower and even eliminate radon levels with mitigation systems. The primary method to decrease radon is a vent pipe system and a fan. This process pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it to the outside. You can build a mitigation system on your own with the help of some online tutorials and resources or hire a professional to save you the trouble.

All-in the materials to build a mitigation system of your own may cost an estimated $500.00. If you are interested in trying to build your own D-I-Y mitigation system, check out this helpful guide. While installing the mitigation systems yourself may prove to be cost-efficient, the EPA recommends using a state or nationally certified contractor and we highly recommend this too. Your family’s health is always the priority. If you would like to have a qualified professional take care of your radon issue ask your real estate agent as they work with radon professionals all the time.

Helpful hint: The EPA has published a very useful guide on how to fix your home and rid it of that irritating radon which can be found here. Radon has the potential to be a very dangerous problem for you and your loved ones after prolonged exposure, but with a proactive approach of utilizing the proper procedures to adequately test and rid your home of radon, you should be stress and radon-free in no time!

For more information regarding radon safety and prevention, check the EPA website.

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