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What is Radon and why do we test for it ?

March 23, 2018

 

What is Radon and why should we test for it ?

Radon is a chemical element. Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that occurs naturally. Because Radon is gaseous it is easily inhaled, and it is considered a health hazard.  Radon gas that comes from natural sources, such as uranium-containing minerals, can accumulate in buildings, and due to its high density, accumulates in low areas such as basements and crawl spaces.

 

A clear link has been established between breathing high concentrations of radon and incidences of lung cancer. Radon is a contaminant that affects indoor air quality worldwide. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking, causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States.

 

Some of the highest radon levels in the United States are found in Iowa. Many cities within the state, such as Iowa City, have passed requirements for radon-resistant construction in new homes.

 

Since radon is a colorless, odorless gas, the only way to know how much is present is to perform Radon testing. In the United States radon test kits are available to the public for home use, and testing is available through licensed professionals, who are often also home inspectors. Efforts to reduce indoor radon levels is called radon mitigation. There are firms that specialize in radon gas mitigation.

There are several methods of reducing the amount of radon accumulating in a home or building;

  • Sub-slab depressurization by increasing under-floor ventilation;

  • Improving the ventilation of the house and avoiding the transport of radon from the basement into living areas;

  • Installing a radon sump system in the basement;

  • Installing a positive pressure or positive supply ventilation system;

  • Installing a radon barrier in a crawlspace

The most widely accepted method to reduce radon is a vent pipe system and fan, which pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it to the outside, this is also called sub-slab depressurization, active soil depressurization, or soil suction.

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