Testing Radon Levels in Your Home Here’s What You Should Know
Cancer is among the leading cause of death worldwide with lung cancer topping the list, not just for smokers, but especially those exposed to radon. This gas is attributed to about 20,000 lung cancer deaths annually, according to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA). Reducing cancer risks starts with what you eat, but do you know you could actually be breeding and breathing in cancer-causing gases like radon, which is often right in your home. Radon testing for your home is important when moving to a new house and area that is marked as a radon zone to ensure your family is protected from a key cause of lung cancer.
Radon Gas: Features and Entry Points
Radon is a naturally occurring gas originating from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks, though harmless in small quantities. Why does radon accumulate in houses? If a house is built on uranium-rich soil, the gas may seep through cracks on walls, floors, foundation gaps and construction joints.
The most common place where concentration is usually high is in the basement. Breathing in radioactive gas exposes your lungs to small traces of radiation which may adversely damage the cells and the entire lining — increasing your risk of developing lung cancer. It’s even higher if you’ve been exposed to radon for long. For smokers, the risk of developing lung cancer is twice when they’re also exposed to radon gas.
Radon Gas Testing, Mitigation and Abatement
Due to its properties gas: odorless, colorless, tasteless, and harmless in small amounts, it’s not easy to tell its presence. When it comes to testing reducing radon levels in your house, there are two ways about it. First, you either hire a local radon mitigation company or consider doing it yourself using special kits designed for self-testing. The kits usually come with everything explained so you can easily do it without much knowledge. Essentially, you’re expected to allow the kit to stay in your house for a couple of days, depending on the guidelines, then send it to the lab for analysis.
If the results indicate high radon levels in your house, you need to consider mitigation strategies. The most common method is to install ventilation systems, pipes and fans to pull radon and vent it outside your house. It’s an effective way of controlling radon levels in residential applications. Another common source of radon in houses is through the water supply, and though its risks are insignificant, you need to ensure clean and safe water for consumption by testing your water reservoirs. Contaminated water supply can be easily treated to rid off radon.
Depending on several factors including home design, size and mitigation strategies needs, the cost of radon testing and abatement can vary widely. The lack of widespread radon testing kits has however made it difficult for individuals to easily determine whether they have been exposed to radon, and to what extent. But if you start showing symptoms of such as chest pain, difficult breathing, throat pains, and hoarseness, or suspect you’ve been exposed, it’s crucial that you consult with your doctor. Go for screening to check for possible signs of cancer, and if you smoke, it’s best if you stop to avoid worsening the problem.
While the US government has set up a special fund to support those who may be exposed to radon in their workplace, especially millers, miners and transporters, not everyone can benefit from this and so the public needs to take individual responsibility and be keen radon testing.