Radon – what is it all about?
Radon is an invisible and odorless, radioactive gas that has been found in homes all over the U.S. It occurs naturally from decaying uranium underneath the earth’s surface, appears in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. It can sometimes enter the home through well water.
To learn more about radon, we invite you to read an article by G. Thomas Martin.
Health problems through radon?
When trapped inside an enclosed space, it can reach dangerous and often deadly levels. Continuous inhalation of radon gas damages lung tissue causing lung cancer and long-term exposure may even cause death. It is estimated that radon kills between 5,000 and 30,000 people each year.
Where does radon come from?
Any home can have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. In fact, you and your family are most likely to get your greatest radiation exposure at home. That is where you spend most of your time. Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. You may have radon in your home or office even if your neighbor does not.
The greatest concentration of radon is usually found in the lowest level of homes or offices. This is because radon is found in the soil and rocks beneath the foundation. If you have dirt floors in the basement, cracks in the foundation, or openings from a sump pump hole or drain, radon is likely to build up quicker and in higher concentrations. Radon can also enter your home through your water supply (i.e. shower, dishwasher, washing machine, etc.).
What can I do to protect myself and my family?
To find out if radon gas is a problem in your home, you must conduct a radon test!
An acceptable level of radon is 4 pCi/L (Picocuries Per Liter) or less. If the average of two sets of test results are higher than 4(pCi/L) you should take some action to reduce the radon level in your home.
There are ways to reduce the level of radon yourself or by a trained professional. Costs should run between $500-$2,500 depending on the seriousness of your problem. Start by doing the following and then contact your State Radon Office or EPA Office for additional information on reducing Radon in your home or office:
– Seal or caulk areas of entry such as cracks, holes and openings.
– Keep vents to crawl spaces open.
– Minimize time spent in low areas such as your basement.
– Increase the circulation of outside air into your home.
– Discourage cigarette smoking in your home.
Search for Radon Test Results by Zip Code
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) offers a tool where you can check the Radon results which were taken in basements of homes by ZIP-code. Click here to view the Radon data by simply entering the 5 digit zip code of the area you wish to search for and click on the Search button.