Radon gas is a serious problem in the United States and elsewhere around the globe. In the US, approximately one out of every 15 homes is thought to have higher than accepted levels of radon, which in turn could lead to serious health problems for you and your family should your home be one of those affected.
Radon is the number two leading cause of lung cancer in the country, second only to smoking, and more than 20,000 deaths each year are directly attributed to radon exposure. All of this means that it is essential that you have your home tested for radon in order to protect your health and the health of those you love most.
What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is given off as uranium decays. Many igneous and metamorphic rocks have trace amounts of uranium, and in places where this is the case, homes and other buildings may be susceptible to radon build up. Unfortunately, the gas is colorless and odorless, which means that without adequate testing, you will generally be unaware of the problem until it’s too late.
Radon is the heaviest known gas and weighs more than nine times as much as oxygen. The fact that it is so dense and heavy makes it able to easily penetrate through most building materials, which means that it often builds up inside of basements and crawlspaces, which puts the inhabitants at risk for inhalation.
The chemical is also found in groundwater, but it is typically inhalation that poses the far bigger health threat. Luckily, there are a number of ways that you can have your home tested for radon to ensure that you and your family aren’t at risk.
Why test radon levels
Radon Testing Options
Generally speaking, there are two types of radon tests—short term and long term. Both types are usually readily available at most hardware stores or online and both will need to be mailed to a testing lab in order to be analyzed. Typically, the cost of the testing kit will also include the lab analysis.
In most cases, it is best to start out with a short-term test, which analyzes the air in the home for somewhere between two days and one week. After leaving the testing kit out as directed, you can then send it off to the lab to quickly determine whether your home might have a radon problem. Although the short-term tests are always a good starting option, the fact is that radon levels can fluctuate over time. For this reason, it’s also a good idea to perform a long-term test on occasion, which will measure the overall levels for a longer period of around three months. No matter which test you choose, it is important that you make sure that it follows the EPA approved testing procedures to ensure that it provides an accurate reading.
If either test shows that your radon levels are above the EPA’s accepted maximum level, it is essential that you immediately seek professional help. By doing so, you can hopefully lower the radon levels to an acceptable level before they pose a serious threat to your family’s health.