Radon

The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined radon to be a worldwide health risk in homes. Dr. Maria Neira called radon the “…second most important cause of lung cancer after smoking in many countries.” The EPA considers radon to be the top cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

You can’t see or smell radon. It is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that is emitted from the radioactive decay of uranium. Unfortunately, it is ubiquitous as it is found in both indoor and outdoor air. But don’t worry, there are ways of detecting and staying safe from radon.


Detection
  1. You can purchase a do-it-yourself radon test kit at hardware stores. Make sure to check your kitchen counter; granite counter can be a source of radon.
  2. The National Radon Program Services at Kansas State University offers test kits for purchase online. Click here for more information.
  3. Contact a professional contractor to measure radon levels.

Solutions

There are, in general, three methods to reduce radon concentration: Diluting, Sealing, Diverting

Diluting:

  1. You can use natural ventilation by simply opening doors and opens. However, this natural ventilation can lead to discomfort, especially if the weather is uncomfortable.
  2. Mechanical ventilation is more reliable than natural ventilation. It involves a using fans or a system of fans to move air. Contact a contractor. Installation costs will vary.

Sealing:

  1. Assuming you know what the source of radon pollution is, you can seal it. For example, you can seal the surface of a concrete floor slab with a coating.
  2. Large quantities of radon enter households through cracks in the foundation and sealing those crack can prevent radon from entering the living space. This is usually done with caulking or aerosol foam insulation.

Diverting:

  1. Because most houses are not airtight, sealing may alleviate the radon problem but will not prevent all radon from entering the building. Diverting involves creating a depressurized area for radon to flow to and then connecting that space outside with an exhaust fan.
  2. Another method is to pressurize the house to keep radon from entering.

Contact a qualified radon mitigation contractor to reduce radon levels. The EPA recommends a radon level <4 pCi/L (pico Curies per Liter). The average American home has a radon level of 1.3 pCi/L.

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