Testing and Removal
As the U.S. Surgeon
General has listed radon as the number two cause of lung
cancer, and it accounts for about 20,000 deaths
annually, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
recommends that all U.S. homes be tested for radon gas.
Radon is a
radioactive, odorless, colorless gas formed by the decay
of radium that occurs in soil, water and natural gas. As
radon decays, it forms radioactive by-products, which
can be inhaled and cause damage to lung tissue.
Radon gas is drawn
into homes or buildings through cracks in the foundation
or slab and through unsealed pipes, sumps, drains, walls
and other openings.
While radon is common
outside, it is diluted to very low levels and is not a
concern. However, radon that enters an enclosed space,
such as a home, can sometimes accumulate to high levels.
Today, homes can be
built to reduce the amount of radon coming in by using
radon-resistant construction features.
Testing for radon is
simple and relatively inexpensive. Depending on the
test, the kit remains in your home for 48 hours to 90
days. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day
and season to season, short-term tests are less likely
to measure your annual radon exposure.
Long-term tests remain
in your home for more than 90 days. A long-term test
will give a more accurate annual average radon level
than a short-term test.
A variety of methods
are used to reduce indoor radon levels, from sealing
cracks in floors and walls to changing the flow of air
into the home. Simple systems use pipes and fans to
remove radon gas from beneath the concrete floor and
foundation before it can enter the home. Radon is then
vented out above the roof, where it safely disperses.
Other methods may also
work in your home. The right radon removal system
depends on the design of your home and other factors.
Lowering high radon
levels requires technical knowledge and special skills.
You should use a professional who is trained to fix
radon problems. The cost of making repairs to reduce
radon depends on how your home was built and the extent
of the radon problem, but most homes can be fixed for a