What is radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from uranium and radium in soil, which can be found everywhere in the world. Uranium is present in rocks, such as granite, shale, phosphate, and pitchblende. Uranium breaks down into radium, which then decays into radon. This gas can easily move up through the soil into the atmosphere. Natural deposits of uranium and radium--not manufactured sources--produce most of the radon present in the air.
Radon is in the soil and air everywhere in varying amounts. People cannot see, taste, feel or smell radon. There is no way to sense the presence of radon. Radon levels are commonly expressed in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), where a picocurie is a measure of radioactivity. The national average of indoor radon levels in homes is about 1.3 pCi/L. Radon levels outdoors, where radon is diluted, average about 0.4 pCi/L.
Radon in the soil can be drawn into a building and can accumulate to high levels. Every building and home has the potential for elevated levels of radon. All homes should be tested for radon, even those built with radon-resistant features. The EPA recommends taking action to reduce indoor radon levels when levels are 4 pCi/L or higher.
Most radon in homes comes from radon in the soil that seeps into homes through cracks in the foundation or slab. The amount of radon in the soil varies widely and depends on the chemical makeup of the soil. There can be large house-to-house differences in soil radon concentrations. The only way to know is to test.
The EPA estimates that the national average indoor radon level in homes is about 1.3 pCi/l of air. We also estimate that about one in 15 homes nationwide has levels at or above the level of 4 pCi/L, the level at which the EPA recommends taking action to reduce concentrations. Levels greater than 2,000 pCi/L of air have been measured in some homes. The only way you can know if there is radon in your home is to test for it.
The best way to assess exposure to radon is by measuring concentrations of radon (or radon decay products) in the air you breathe at home.
The first step is to test your home for radon and have it fixed if it is at or above EPA's action level of 4 picocuries per liter. You may want to take action if the levels are in the range of 2-4 picocuries per liter. Generally, levels can be brought below 2 pCi/l fairly simply.
Is radon a significant health risk?
When radon enters a home, it decays into radioactive particles that have a static charge, which attracts them to particles in the air. These particles can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As the radioactive particles break down further, they release bursts of energy that can damage the DNA in lung tissue. In some cases, if the lung tissue does not repair the DNA correctly, the damage can lead to lung cancer.
Reliable radon Solutions partnered with Home Inspection Carolina to produce an educational video for radon testing and mitigation. Click the link below to watch and learn about radon, radon testing and the mitigation process!
Reliable Radon Solutions