What are the health risks of radon?
With the lowest survival rate among some of the most common cancers, lung cancer is one of the most feared diseases in the country. Radon gas constitutes the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 21,000 people die from radon induced lung cancer per year and in 2005 the Surgeon General of the United States issued a national health advisory on radon.
The dangers of radon
Radon doesn't cause itchy eyes or watering noses, but it does damage your lungs over time. Long-term exposure over the course of years, even if radon levels rise and drop over time, dramatically increases your chances of developing lung cancer. Your risk of leukemia also rises with exposure to radon. Since you're spending hours at a time in your home inhaling the air, you're going to take in plenty of radon as you cook, bathe, and sleep if it's present in the home's air supply. Children that are home all day long are at even more risk for inhalation. Find out why radon is dangerous and why it's so hard to detect without testing.
Lung cancer risks
Smoking remains the number one cause of lung cancer in the US. However, radon is usually the second largest contributor to the disease in any given year. When you combine a smoking habit with a home that has unsafe radon levels, you can raise your risk for lung cancer 9 times over. Understanding just what is radon testing isn’t just essential if you're a smoker or there's a smoker in your household, but it's essential for everyone. If you avoid smoking and other risky behaviors but still inhale too much radon while at home or work, you could become one of the 20,000 or more cases of lung cancer attributed to the gas each year. Homeowners aware of what is a radon test know they must test at least once every two years to avoid these problems.
Radon is a particularly tricky risk factor to control because the levels in your home can change from day to day or week to week. Seasonal variations and changes in weather can impact indoor radon levels. That's why it's best to perform both short-term and long-term tests. Some of Radonova's tests measure gas levels for up to a full year. This provides an annual average and takes into account how radon fluctuates over the seasons.
Where does radon come from?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions after, "What is radon testing?" The soil under your house isn’t a random mix of dirt. You can’t tell just by looking, but there are some radioactive elements that make up common minerals and rocks found mixed into the soil across the country. As uranium hidden in clumps of soil and pebbles break down with time, radon gas is released as part of the radioactive decay. Once it’s free from the soil, it has many paths to enter the average home through cracks in the foundations, gaps in first floor and basement walls, seams around windows, and other similar openings. Unless you have a high rate of air flow moving through your home at all times, radon can build up inside the home and reach unsafe levels.
Why don't you hear more about radon?
If you're one of the many people who only recently asked, "What is a radon test and why do I even need one?", you're not alone. Despite being a major risk factor for lung cancer, there’s only a limited budget for radon awareness campaigns from the EPA and state health organizations. Most states publish brochures and papers warning residents, but these attempts at education often suffer from limited circulation. It’s certainly not front page news in most parts of the country. Many people go their whole lives without knowing about the risks of radon. Don’t wait to find out that it’s a problem by hearing from your doctor after a lung cancer scare or diagnosis. By figuring out what is a radon test, you'll be ready to see what's in your home's air.
What levels of radon are unsafe?
The EPA sets the level of unsafe radon gas exposure at or above 4 pCi/L. If your home has radon gas levels exceeding this action level, it’s recommended that you undergo mitigation efforts to reduce exposure. If testing reveals a much higher level, you’ll definitely need mitigation and may need more extensive renovations to seal off the source of the gas. While any level of radon can have an effect, the EPA says readings below 2 pCi/L is considered normal and only carries a relatively small increased risk of lung cancer. It’s possible but often difficult to reduce radon gas exposure below these levels.
With most homeowners knowing relatively little about radon gas and its risks, there’s plenty to learn before tackling the problem. Understanding the scope of radon exposure, the parts of the country with the highest levels of gas production, and mitigation costs will prepare you for taking on the challenge.
- Smoking makes radon gas exposure much more likely to trigger lung cancer development. If you’re concerned about radon, quitting smoking is one of the best ways to reduce its impact on your health.
- If you can keep your indoor radon levels at 2 pCi/L or lower, you’ll face very low increased risk of developing lung cancer due to radon. When you reach the 1.3 pCi/L level that is normal for indoor air, only two non-smokers out of 1,000 will develop lung cancer specifically due to the exposure. It’s impossible to reach a zero percent risk in areas where radon is common, but reducing the gas level as much as is feasible is worth the effort.
- Two different studies have established an association between lung cancer rates and residential radon exposure. The American and European studies also involved data on miners exposed to high levels of radon at work and drew clear associations between exposure and lung cancer rates. Both residential and occupational radon exposure are now understood to affect your chances of developing lung cancer.
- Radon mitigation efforts depend on the property, the radon levels, and where it’s entering the home. Operating whole house fans and ventilation systems can help reduce relatively low levels of exposure. When radon levels are at or above the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/l, it is recommended that a professional radon mitigation contractor be contacted. These contractors have specialized training in radon reduction methods, such as the commonly used sub-slab depressurization system. Using a professional radon mitigation contractor is the safest way to lower radon levels in your home.
What is radon testing?
Radon testing is the process of determining the level of radon gas in a home or building. A radon detector is deployed according to the instructions included with the kit in the lowest lived-in area of the home. At the conclusion of the measurement period the detector is retrieved and immediately returned to the laboratory for analysis. The tests are designed to reflect the radon level present in the home during the monitoring period.
Short term test devices are convenient in that they will provide results quickly, while long term test devices offer a more reliable average radon level. This is due to the longer exposure period accounting for all the fluctuations in radon levels throughout the measurement period. At Radonova we offer high quality, easy to use radon test kits that are used by homeowners and radon professionals to accurately determine radon levels.
Should you test for radon?
Every home will have varying levels of radon gas, and with it being a colorless, odorless gas, testing for radon is the only way to know what your home’s radon level is. There are many factors that contribute to each individual home’s radon level. This means houses in the same area, on the same block, even next door will have varying radon levels..
Environmental changes can impact a home’s radon levels over time, as can updates to the home such as upgrading of windows and doors, bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, additions, changes to HVAC systems, and more. For these reasons, testing is recommended every 2-3 years in homes where a previously low level was found, and annually after a mitigation system has been installed to reduce a previously high radon level.
How can I protect my household?
If you are looking to protect your household from radon, then you need a company that understands the risks that face your family. Radon is a legitimate threat that you cannot see or smell. It could be all around you even though you are unable to perceive it. You need a better understanding of what is going on in the air around you in order to protect yourself. Radonova has the expertise that you need to protect your household from the ongoing threat of deadly radon gas. Any of Radonova’s test kits, including the Radtrak², Rapidos, and QuickScreen, can efficiently measure the radon level in your home. Our certified lab will analyze and accurately report your home’s radon level to help you decide on taking any corrective action.
Take it from Tom Kelly, a former director of the Indoor Environments Division of the EPA: “Radon is a carcinogen, and it does not care how much love you put into your household. It comes to wreck everything that you have done.”
Give the experts at Radonova a call or an email to determine the perfect radon test kit your household needs.
Short Term Radon Test Kit
10-90 Radon Test Kit
The Rapidos is a short-term radon test that will monitor between 10 to 90 days. This extremely accurate test will take into account all of the daily fluctuations in radon and provide an average concentration.
Long Term Radon Test Kit
90-365 Radon Test Kit
The Radtrak² is a long-term test that will monitor between 90 days and 1 full year. This extremely accurate test will take into account all of the daily fluctuations in radon levels.