Radon - What is it and why test for it?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from uranium in the soil. You can't see, smell, or taste it. Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.* (after smoking). Recent studies have pointed to many other health problems related to radon, such as non-lung cancers & leukemia.
Every home has some level of radon gas present, but the Lehigh Valley is a hot spot for radon. The EPA classifies this region as "Zone 1" or most likely to have high levels of radon present in your home.
How does Radon get into my home? As a gas, radon seeps into your home through small cracks and holes in foundations, crawlspaces and slabs. It can even go through concrete! All types of homes are susceptible --old, new, two-story, or ranch -- on a basement, crawl space, or slab. It is important for you to know if your new home has a potential radon problem. Have your home tested to see if your radon level is safe!
You Should Test for Radon if You're in Any of These Categories:
- Never tested your home before.
- You tested 24 months ago or more, and the radon level was okay.
- You tested before & radon level was high, but didn't fix the problem.
- You have fixed your home with a mitigation system, but haven't re-tested in the past 24 months.
How Much Radon Do You Have?
You need to test for it, to find out for sure. There are several approved ways to test for radon. Testing is quick, easy and inexpensive. You should test your basement and areas in your home where you spend most of your time such as family rooms and bedrooms.
For immediate results required a real estate transaction, use a professional that has special test equipment. The best tests use an electronic instrument called a continuous radon monitor (CRM) to obtain results within 120 minutes at the end of a two-day test period.
Be aware that radon levels in your home vary all the time. For example, radon levels can be significantly different in the summer compared to winter. Therefore, you should also test over a longer period of time. Use a long- term test kit for up to one year to be sure.
If Your Radon Level is Too High...
While you can't completely eliminate radon, you can reduce it to low levels. If your home's radon level is 4 picocuries per liter or more, the EPA recommends a mitigation system be installed. A common method used to reduce the radon level is "sub slab depressurization". In this case, a suction point or points are determined and a pipe is inserted through the concrete slab floor. This pipe is connected to other PVC piping. A fan then draws the radon gas from beneath the home and vents it to the outside. A qualified mitigation company, certified by the state, is your best choice for installation of a mitigation system.
Make sure your professional is certified by State of PA and the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) or the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB).
Ask for a copy of their certificates.
* according to the US EPA.