What is Radon?
Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas, which is colorless, odorless, and tasteless and occurs naturally in soil*. It is produced from radium, a byproduct formed in the decay of uranium. Even though you cannot see, smell, or taste radon it may still be an issue in your home. When you breathe in air containing radon, your risk of lung cancer increases. *www.epa.gov
Where is Radon found?
Radon is found all over the US and can get into any type of building — homes, offices, and schools — which results in a higher indoor radon level. However, you and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home, where you spend most of your time. Radon testing is the best way to keep your family safe.
Why you should test for radon?
Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year.
Testing is inexpensive and is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend radon testing on ALL homes below the third floor regardless of the type of foundation the house is built on, basement, crawls space, or slab on grade.
How Does Radon Get Into Your Home?
Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.
What your radon test results mean?
The concentration of radon in the home is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and about 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air. If your radon level is below 4.0 pCi/L, you do not need to take action. However, radon levels less than 4.0 pCi/L still pose some risk and in many cases may be reduced. If the radon level in your home is between 2.0 and 4.0 pCi/L, the EPA recommends that you consider fixing your home.
What if my results are high?
If your radon level is 4.0 pCi/L or greater, remediation is needed. There are several proven methods to reduce radon in your home, but the one primarily used is a vent pipe system and fan, which pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it to the outside. This system, known as a soil suction radon reduction system, does not require major changes to your home. Sealing foundation cracks and other openings makes this kind of system more effective and cost-efficient. Similar systems can also be installed in houses with crawl spaces.
The equipment HIA uses for radon testing: We use the E-PERM® System, a passive device used to measure radon concentrations in the air. It consists of a charged Teflon disk or electret which is screwed into an ionization chamber to establish an electrostatic field. When this happens a passive ionization chamber is formed.
Over time, radon gas diffuses passively into the chamber. The alpha particles emitted from the decay of radon ionize the air molecules. The ions are attracted to the charged surface of the electret and over time neutralize and reduce the charge that was originally present. The electret charge is measured before and after the exposure, and the rate of change is proportional to the concentration of radon in the area.
Radon testing protocol for Occupants
To ensure accurate readings for analysis, the occupant of the house will be asked to maintain the conditions listed below during the radon testing period. Occupants should follow these procedures carefully or the test results may be deemed invalid:
- Windows and doors must be kept closed at least 12 hours prior to placing the testers and throughout the test period. Doors may be opened during the radon testing for normal entering and exiting. Windows must be kept closed because, when open, they can raise or lower radon levels.
- Please do not operate any whole-house fans, fireplaces, or wood stoves, unless they are a primary heat source, and keep all dampers closed if not in use.
- You may operate the heating and air conditioning normally.
- The dryer, range hood, bathroom fan, or attic ventilating fan can be operated. This equipment should only be operated normally because any exhaust fan or any combustion appliance may increase the negative pressure in the dwelling, which can raise or lower any radon concentration.
- Please do not touch, cover, or move the detectors, tampering with the detectors or refusing to follow these protocols will void the radon testing.