January is National Radon Awareness month. Carey Hughes Homes recommends Radon testing as part of the inspection process for all of our buyers because it can be an issue in the Portland Metro Area.
What is Radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. It forms naturally from the break down of radioactive elements which are found in different amounts in soil and rock. Radon gas can move from soil and rock into the air and water.
Being exposed to radon for a long period of time can lead to lung cancer. Radon gas in the air breaks down into tiny radioactive elements that can lodge in the lining of the lungs, where they can give off radiation. This radiation can damage lung cells and eventually lead to lung cancer. Scientists estimate that about 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year are related to radon.
Where am I most at risk of exposure?
Radon is present outdoors and indoors. It is normally found at very low levels in outdoor air and in drinking water from rivers and lakes. For most people, exposure to radon comes from being indoors in homes, offices, schools, and other buildings. The levels of radon in homes and other buildings depend on the characteristics of the rock and soil in the area.
According to the EPA, the average indoor radon level is about 1.3 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). People should take action to lower radon levels in the home if the level is 4.0 pCi/L or higher. The EPA estimates that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States has elevated radon levels so for most people, the largest potential source of radon exposure is in their home.
What can I do to ensure this is not a problem?
You can check radon levels in your home to determine if you need to take steps to lower them. The EPA recommends testing all homes below the 3rd floor, even new homes that were built “radon-resistant.”
- Do-it-yourself radon detection kits can be ordered through the mail or bought in hardware or home supply stores. The kits are placed in the home for a period of time and then mailed to a lab for analysis.
- You can also hire a professional to test radon levels in your home. Please feel free to contact us for a referral to our favorite qualified contractors who do this testing.
What Should I do if Radon is found in my home?
If Radon is detected in your home, the good news is that Radon reduction systems work. Some can reduce radon levels in a home by up to 99% and cost about the same as other common home repairs (though costs will vary depending on the size and design of your home and which radon reduction methods are needed). We suggest getting an estimate from one or more qualified licensed contractors.
Where can I get more information on Radon?
- The EPA: www.epa.gov/radon/whereyoulive.html.
- The American Cancer Association: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/radon.html
Credit for information in this article goes to EPA.gov and The American Cancer Association.