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The Importance of Radon Testing

Radon Testing:

When my family and I got our first home radon test done two years ago, I was shocked to have learned that our house was contaminated. We had very little knowledge on the effects of Radon and couldn’t believe our ears when we were told that this toxic gas was responsible for thousands of deaths each year.  I asked myself, how is it possible that for over seven years we were unaware that we were living with a cancer-causing, radioactive gas? I learned that it is nearly impossible to determine whether or not your home is polluted with Radon. This is because this deadly gas is odorless, tasteless and invisible to the naked-eye. Yet, it can be found all over the country in any type of building, including offices and schools.

Radon is formed from the natural radioactive breakdown of Uranium in soil and water. When you

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitialPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitialPhotos.net

breathe in air that is contaminated, you can develop lung cancer, stomach cancer, leukemia and other serious respiratory disorders. According to the Surgeon General, Radon is currently the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Only smoking surpasses it in causing lung cancer deaths each year. This is especially scary for smokers because if you smoke and live in a home with high Radon levels your chance of contracting cancer is extremely high.

Since Radon is caused by the decay of Uranium it is prevalent in various types of soils. It is most common in rocky soils that contain shale and granite. Maryland homes are especially at risk for high Radon levels due to the abundance of rocky soil that is often found in the area. The life-threatening gas unusually migrates up through the ground to the air in your home through cracks and other holes in foundation. Your home then traps Radon inside, where it can continue to build up. Radon can occasionally enter your home through your water supply. Unlike gas that enters your home through soil, Radon in the water poses not only an inhalation risk but also an ingestion risk. Most of your risk from Radon in water comes from Radon that is released into the air during showering, when the water vapor makes your bathroom steamy and you can breathe in heavy concentrations. However, it’s far less common in surface water than it is in well-water.

 EPA. EPA's 2003 Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes. Digital image. A Citizen's Guide to Radon. EPA, 10 Jan. 2013. Web. 14 May 2013


EPA. EPA’s 2003 Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes. Digital image. A Citizen’s Guide to Radon. EPA, 10 Jan. 2013. Web. 14 May 2013

As severe of an issue as Radon is, the good news is that it can easily be detected and treated. A simple, inexpensive home radon test can detect the presence of Radon.  Don’t worry if Radon is detected in your home because Radon reduction systems are very effective and reasonably-priced.  Radon reduction systems that are installed in homes have been proven to reduce Radon levels as much as 99 percent.

Since Radon commonly enters a building through cracks in floors and walls, gaps in suspended floors, cavities inside walls and the water supply having regular home energy audits done will help to detect necessary home repair issues. Even though home energy audits don’t include Radon testing  it will enable you to make necessary renovations to improve your home’s safety.  As nerve-racking as it was for my family and me to learn that our home housed such a deadly pollutant we are very thankful that we had a test done. Having a home Radon test done allowed us to install the necessary devices in order to keep our home safe and Radon free.

For information on home energy audits go to:

http://www.homeenergyefficiencyaudit.com/

For more information on the effects of Radon and how to get your home tested and treated go to:

http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html

Author: Jasmine Stuart

 

 

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