Knowledge Center

Know the Facts About Radon and Keep Yourself Safe

According to the EPA, radon causes approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year and is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking. More people in the US die from radon than from drunk drivers, homicides, or Parkinson's disease. 

What is Radon Gas? 

Radon is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas that results from the breakdown of uranium, radium or thorium in the soil or rocks. It most often gets into a home through cracks in the foundation, walls, or construction joints as the gas moves up through the ground. 

Where Does Radon Gas Come From?

Radon forms naturally when uranium in the soil breaks down and forms radium. When radon is trapped indoors, it can be found inside a home in the air. As a gas in the home, radon can harm a person’s health. The radon gas contains radioactive byproducts that are toxic when inhaled and can cause lung cancer. 

Where is Radon Found?

Radon in small doses is common outdoors. As a result, many people are exposed to radon in limited doses. When radon gets trapped indoors, however, the levels may become dangerous to a person’s health.

Why is Radon Gas Dangerous?

As the second leading cause of lung cancer, radon causes thousands of deaths each year. According to the American Lung Association, approximately 2,900 of the 21,000 people who die of radon-related lung cancer each year never smoked. 

Radon is a silent killer. There are no immediate health effects that come from breathing in radon gas. Instead, when you breathe in radon, radioactive particles in the gas get trapped in your lungs, affecting your cells with cancer-causing radiation. It may take years, but these particles increase your lung cancer risk.

What are My Chances of Getting Radon-Induced Cancer?

Not surprisingly, people who smoke and are exposed to radon have a greater risk of developing lung cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that the following factors will depend on if you are at increased risk of radon-induced cancer. The more of these factors you have, the higher your chances of lung cancer from radon exposure.

  • The amount of radon detected in your home. The higher the radon in the air, the more likely you’ll be affected. A radon level at or above 4 picocuries per liter is considered high and dangerous. 
  • The location where you spend the most time in your home and its proximity to the rooms where the radon levels are highest.
  • The amount of time you spend in your house.
  • If you smoke or have smoked.
  • If you burn coal or wood or other substances indoors.

How to Make a House Safe from Radon Gas

Radon cannot be seen or smelled – the only detection method is testing. Approximately 6% of all houses have elevated levels. Radon levels in homes have been found in every state and can vary from house to house. In addition, there is no safe level of radon. The only way to completely safeguard your health and home is to employ radon testing. That way you can take action, such as using a radon air purifier. A basement air purifier can help to mitigate the proliferation of radon in your home. Radon’s decay product ranges from 0.5 to 3 nm, while Alen True HEPA (H13) medical-grade filtration removes 99.99% of harmful particles down to 0.1 microns.

Radon Potential Zone Map

radon map

 

Indoor Radon Screening in Your Home

Tests exist that enable you to check the radon levels in your home. To test your home for radon, select the lowest level room where you spend most of your time (typically a bedroom or basement). 

Radon DIY kits can be found at hardware stores for $15-$20. The National Safety Council also offers test kits (short-term & long-term) that can be ordered through the mail or by phone. Start with the short-term test. If the levels are high, test again with the long-term to get verification. For more information, consult the EPA’s A Citizen's Guide to Radon: The Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Radon.

If your radon levels are high, hire a qualified radon mitigation contractor, because specialized knowledge and skills are required. Check with your state radon office. Costs generally range from $1,000 to $2,000.

The EPA suggests mitigating if radon levels are at or above 148 Bq/m3 (4 pCi/L). A mitigation company will increase the rate of air flow in the building or install an underground ventilation system. You can also help ensure that your air is as clean as possible by considering using radon air filters. It’s advisable to re-test for radon after the work has been completed by an independent radon tester to verify the problem has been corrected. 

Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

Air quality is a major factor in your health and wellbeing, especially when it comes to places where you spend a lot of time like your home or office. A quality basement air purifier can make a massive difference in improving the air quality of your home. Just remember that radon’s decay product ranges from 0.5 to 3 nm, leaving many air purifiers unable to filter the particles. Alen True HEPA (H13) medical-grade filtration removes 99.99% of harmful particles down to 0.1 microns.

If you would like to learn more about how to improve the air quality in your home or business, contact an Alen Clean Air Specialist via call, chat, or form!

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