What You Need to Know About Radon in Your Home

In the United States, radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Low levels of radon can be found in nearly all air as it comes from decayed elements that are commonly found in soil. Exposure to high levels of radon, particularly over time, are troublesome, which can occur when radon gets trapped in the home. So how, exactly, can radon get trapped in your home? It can enter through your home's foundation. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself and your family from high levels of radon exposure. Here's what you need to know. 

Radon in your home

Radon releases when elements in the soil decay. When this occurs in the soil underneath your home, the radon can easily enter your home through any cracks in the foundation, through the sump pump pit, and through the porous concrete of the foundation. Long term exposure to trapped radon inside your home can cause lung cancer and breathing problems such as a persistent cough, wheezing, chest pains, and recurring pneumonia or bronchitis. Because of the health risks involved when radon is present in the home, prevention is crucial. 

Radon levels depend on location 

Some areas have more problems with radon than others. Due to the health risks involved, the Environmental Protection Agency has developed an interactive map that color codes each county in the United States to show radon levels, which are divided into three zones based on the pCi/L measurements of radon. Find your location on the interactive map to see the typical radon level in your county. 

Test your home's interior for radon 

You can determine how much radon is in your home through various tests, which can be purchased from any home improvement store or obtained from your local health department. Alternatively, you can hire a radon testing service to perform the tests for you. If you choose to test your home yourself, you can choose from short term tests, long term tests, or continuous tests. Regardless of which test(s) you choose, be sure to test the lowest regularly used living area of your home. 

Action steps for reducing radon 

If your home is found to test positive for too much radon, you'll need to take some steps to reduce or eliminate the radon in your home. Since radon can come through cracks in the foundation, fill in the cracks with caulking. If you have a sump pump pit, cover the pit with an airtight cover. Seal all of the surfaces of your home's foundation with a concrete sealer. These steps can be DIY projects, but for the best protection from radon, hire a professional. 

Another option is to have a radon eradication system installed, which should only be done by a professional service. This system includes a vent pipe that can be connected to the sump pump pit or connected to a hole that is sawed through the concrete floor of your foundation. An in-line fan is also included in the system, which is used to draw the radon out of the soil underneath your home. The radon then gets vented outside where it can easily disperse into the air. To learn more about this process, contact a wall sawing service. 

Install a radon monitoring system 

Regardless of which method you use to reduce the amount of radon in your home, install a radon monitoring system afterwards. That way, you can be alerted to any problems with radon before you or another household member becomes ill. If your home did not test high for radon levels and you did not take preventive measures, it's still a good idea to install a radon monitoring system as radon is undetectable to human senses.