Radon is an invisible, radioactive gas that has no odor or taste. The presence of radon occurs naturally in the earth. If radon enters your home, the consequences to your health and that of your family can be severe. In the U.S., radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. It is also believed that one in every 15 U.S. homes has dangerous levels of radon.
How Radon gets into Your Home
Radon comes from the earth’s soil. Accordingly, radon enters buildings through lower levels and subterranean structures. Here are the ways radon can enter your home:
- Cracks or holes in the foundation, floors and walls
- Construction joints
- Openings near service pipes
- The water supply
The Detection of radon is a very easy process. Radon test kits can be found at your local home improvement stores and are easy to perform. You can also contact your state radon office if you’d prefer that the test be conducted by a professional.
There are two types of test kits, short-term and long-term. A short-term test is conducted for 3 months or less. A long-term test can be performed for up to a year. The reason for the difference in test duration is the fact that radon levels have a tendency to fluctuate. A long-term test will give a more accurate idea of overall radon levels because it tests over a longer period of time. To be effective, both types of tests need to be positioned in the lowest level of the house.
When to Test for Radon
Here are certain events throughout the lifetime of your home that warrant a radon test:
- The purchasing of a new house
- Finishing the basement
- Renovating your home
- Selling your house
Beyond these occasions, it is also recommended that you test your home for radon every 1-2 years.
Any amount of radon in the home is unsafe. If radon is detected in your home, a radon remediation professional should be contacted. You can visit http://www.epa.gov/radon/whereyoulive.html to locate a qualified contractor in your area. You can also visit http://www.epa.gov/radon/radontest.html for assistance in finding a radon test kit.
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