What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally-occurring gas. It’s colorless and odorless, yet its radioactive properties make it a concern for homeowners. When radon’s outside, its trace amounts disperse quickly in the air and generally don’t cause a health concern. If it gets into your house, it poses a risk.

Over time, breathing radon trapped in a home can increase your chances of lung cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US. The risk is even higher among smokers with radon in their homes. Approximately 21,000 people die each year from radon-related lung cancer. 

The EPA estimates that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the US has elevated radon levels. There isn’t one type of home that is susceptible to radon. Radon can be a problem in all types of homes, from new construction to homes without basements, to homes with insulation. Local geology, construction materials, and how the home was built are among the factors than can affect the level of radon.

How does radon get into your home?

  • Cracks in solid floors
  • Construction joints
  • Cracks in walls
  • Gaps in suspended floors
  • Gaps around service pipes
  • Cavities inside walls
  • The water supply

The EPA believes that any radon exposure carries some risk, and that most homes today can be reduced to a safe level. It recommends that you test your home f with a do-it-yourself kit or through a professional service. If the level is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher, you should fix the radon problem. (Please note that lower radon levels still pose a risk, and in many cases, may still be reduced.) A state certified radon mitigation contractor can install a system to reduce the levels and keep them low.

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