Radon In Your Home

By Todd Fratzel on Safety

graphic of house and radon gasRadon gas is a dangerous contaminant that affects indoor air quality. Radon is a colorless, odorless, naturally occurring, radioactive noble gas that is formed from the decay of radium.

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.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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  1. Green Me says:

    I bought a kit and did a 3 month test last year, so I could feel comfortable with my husband’s office and my son’s play room in our basement. The kit was super simple to set up and the results came back in less than 2 weeks(thankfully levels were really low). I think it all cost less than $20. I’d highly recommend the do-it-your-self kit to anyone!

  2. Ian says:

    I recently read an article either in FHB or JLC about Radon being emitted from a kitchen granite counter slab. Not sure how you really prevent that except to get a guarantee from your Kitchen shop that the counter top has been tested.

  3. Todd says:

    @ ian – This question has been asked several times. I’ll be posting an answer to it in the next day or so on my great site Today’s Green Construction.

  4. Ian says:

    My brother just bought this testing kit. He seems to like it and the lifetime support the seller offers. I’ll be trying it out for the next couple weeks.

    Safety Siren Pro-3 Radon Gas Detector / Monitor

  5. Todd says:

    @ Ian – Check out this post that I wrote
    Radon and Granite Countertops

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