Radon is the invisible, radioactive atomic gas that results from radioactive decay of some forms of uranium that may be found in rock formations beneath buildings or in certain building materials themselves. Radon is most likely the most pervasive serious hazard for indoor air in the United States and Europe, and is probably responsible for tens of thousands of lung cancer deaths per year. It is estimated that nearly 21,000 deaths from lung cancer occur each year in the United States from radon gas poisoning.
High concentrations of radon can be found in basements that are not properly ventilated and well water derived from deep wells in rock. One of the best resources about testing your home for radon, Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide To Radon, is from the US EPA and gives lots of great references and suggestions about testing and fixing radon problems. Radon is typically a regional problem and usually depends on the sub-surface geology of a specific building site. A house sitting on layers of sand and clay may have little or no radon gas problems while a house sitting on gravel or ledge may find very high levels of radon on the home.
If you’re about to build a new home make sure to talk about radon prevention with your builder. There are simple inexpensive details that can be built into a home to help mitigate radon gas if it becomes a problem. I’ll show you how this is done in a future post when we install an under-slab radon vent system in a new home we’re building.
If you live in an existing home or you’re buying an existing home take the time to test for radon gas in your well water and the air inside your home. You can test the air in your home for radon gas easily with a do-it-yourself kit like this one from Amazon, Pro Lab Inc. RL116 Long-term Radon Test Kit. Radon in water can also be tested using a kit such as this one, Professioal Lab #RW103 Radon In Water Test Kit, or you can have a local testing lab test water samples.
As I mentioned in my post, Home Improvement Lead Paint Safety, it’s best to assume you do have a problem and not risk the health of yourself and family. Dealing with radon gas is not difficult so long as you identify the problem. Radon is colorless, odorless and impossible to detect without testing. So go out and get a test kit and cross this potential health issue off your list.