Why Radon Testing Matters: The Health Risks of Radon Gas and How to Protect Yourself

Maybe you’ve heard of radon gas but aren’t too worried about its impact on your life. Maybe you’ve never considered how radon can affect your health, and the health of everyone in your home. But radon isn’t a joke, and it certainly isn’t a laughing matter. Radon creates major health risks for everyone exposed to heightened levels of this gas, so it’s time to take it seriously. Ready to learn why you should be concerned about radon in your home, and what to do about it? Then you’ve come to the right place.

What Is Radon?

Radon is a radioactive, odorless, tasteless, colorless gas that is invisible to the naked eye. However, even though you can’t see, taste, or smell radon gas, you can still be ingesting it. Radon comes from the natural process of decay that uranium in the soil and water goes through. Because it occurs in the ground around your home, radon can easily seep into your home, particularly subterranean areas like basements. Radon can be found both indoors and out, but once it enters your home, it tends to become trapped. This leads to a dangerous concentration of the gas that can have life-threatening affects for humans.

Who Cares About Radon Anyway?

The answer to this question should be everyone! Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the United States, and unfortunately, lung cancer is one of the least survivable cancers out there. From the day they’re diagnosed with lung cancer, a maximum of 15% of patients are still alive five years later. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year are caused by radon exposure.

What Can I Do About Radon?

For starters, get your home tested! While there are areas of the country that have higher levels of radon than others, all homes are susceptible to this naturally occurring carcinogen. The only way to know for sure if your home is safe is to have a professional perform a radon test. This process collects a sample of air, usually from your basement or crawlspace, and then analyzes that sample to determine the concentration of radon gas present. Radon is measured in units call picocuries per liter (pCi/L) which indicate radioactivity per volume of air. The EPA has designated 4 pCi/L as the action level for resolving a radon problem, but lower levels are known to cause health problems, especially in smokers. Radon testing can help you determine what, if any, radon level your home has.

My Home’s Radon Level Is Above 4 pCi/L. What Now?

The good news is that high radon levels in your home are correctable. You’ll need to have what is known as a radon abatement, or mitigation, system installed. These systems trap and collect the radon gas before it enters your home, exhausting it to the exterior where it can safely dissipate. Depending on the construction of your home, the radon mitigation system’s particular installation may vary, but the basic theory remains the same. For maximum protection, we recommend using a professional to design and install your radon abatement equipment. If properly installed, once your radon mitigation system is in place, your home should always be safe from this dangerous gas.

My Home’s Radon Level Is Below 4 pCi/L, So I’m Safe, Right?

Not necessarily. We know that radon levels above 4 pCi/L are dangerous, but there is no known safe level of radon exposure. That means, especially if your home tests close to the EPA’s danger threshold of 4 pCi/L, you may want to look into installing a radon mitigation system anyway.