What is radon and why is it dangerous?
Ways Radon Can Enter the Home. The image shows the inside of a home — bathroom, living room, kitchen, and basement. Red arrows show radon entry pathways. Radon sources include radon gas from soil and radon in well water. Radon can enter a home through a sump pump pit, floor-wall joints, floor cracks, and exposed soil in a crawlspace. Radon gas entering at the lowest level of the home can move to other areas. Radon from well water can enter a home through water taps, showers, dishwashers, and washers.
Reducing the Risk from Radon
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes naturally from soil and rocks. Radon can move from the ground into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. It can also enter a home through private well water. Radon can build up inside your house and cause lung cancer if you breathe it in over many years. Radon is the #1 cause of lung cancer among people who don’t smoke. Lung cancer risk is much higher for people who are exposed to radon and smoke. You can’t see, taste, or smell radon. Testing your home is the only way to know if radon is a problem. Any home can have high levels of radon—new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. Even two homes right next to each other can have very different radon levels.
What do my test results mean?
Radon test results are reported in picocuries per liter of air or pCi/L. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set an “action level” for radon at 4 pCi/L. You should fix (“mitigate”) your home if radon is above the action level. No radon level is risk-free. The EPA recommends that you consider action if your home’s radon level is between 2 and 4 pCi/L. Do not assume the mitigation system has fixed the problem. Try to get the original radon test from the seller of the house. If the radon level was very high (> 100 pCi/L [picocuries per liter of air]), additional safeguards may be needed. How do I get rid of it? Fixing a radon problem involves repairs to the building. A “certified mitigation specialist” should be called to install a system that fixes the problem.
If you rent, usually the building owner, not the tenant, makes these repairs. You can take some steps to get the problem fixed: Tell the building owner in writing about your test results. Ask what steps the owner will take to fix the problem. If you live in an apartment building, you can share your radon information with other residents. Your neighbors might want to test their own units or discuss the issue with the owner.
10 step guide to the radon mitigation process
Radon test reveals the home has a radon problem.
Contact licensed radon mitigation professionals to request bids.
Professional does a walk-through of the home to identify the mitigation system to install. Review key questions with professional, and request a proposal.
Review bids and select a professional.
Professional may perform diagnostic testing to ensure the proper fan size and correct installation. Professional seals cracks and openings in the basement.
Professional installs the radon mitigation system.
Professional provides a full explanation of how the system operates to the homeowner.
Retest the home to ensure the system has reduced radon levels.