One in every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated by the EPA to contain elevated radon levels1. In Colorado, that number is one in every 2 homes2. Much like carbon monoxide risks, radon gas poses a hazard without any signs like odor or color. Only regular testing will keep you updated on your home’s air quality and the risks facing your family. Radon gas is surprisingly common, but daily exposure to high levels of this class A, carcinogenic gas, can result in a higher risk for lung cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).1
Radon is particularly dangerous because it comes from natural sources and can vary in levels over the course of a year as the seasons and weather conditions change. Your home might test at a lower level one month and then return a much higher reading during a different part of the year. Living in a home with higher than recommended radon levels may increase your risk of lung cancer according to the EPA. Affordable mitigation equipment and regular testing are all you need to stay safe in a home known to contain radon. At Reliant Radon we are experts in both testing and mitigation.
Why Radon is Dangerous
Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that naturally results from the radioactive decay of uranium and other radioactive elements in rocks, soil, and sometimes in the water. As the gas rises, it can become easily trapped inside a structure like a home, office building, daycare, or school. The EPA reports that radon exposure is the second most common cause of lung cancer,1 following only smoking as a greater risk. If you smoke cigarettes and live in a home with high radon levels, you face a combined threat that may raise your cancer risk further.
Sources: Environmental Protection Agency, Health Risk of Radon, US Department of Transportation, National Center for Statistics and Analysis, World Health Organization, Global Report on Drowning, US Fire Administration, Home Fire Fatalities in the News
Radon gas constitutes the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. With the lowest survival rate among cancers, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 21,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer per year1. In 2005, the Surgeon General of the United States issued a national health advisory on radon.
Your risk of leukemia also rises with exposure to radon. Since you're spending hours at a time in your home inhaling the air6, you're likely going to take in radon as you cook, bathe, and sleep if it's present in the home's air supply. Children may be at a higher risk for radon exposure 5 according to some recent studies making daycares and schools especially important areas of concern.
Why Don't You Hear More About Radon?
If you're one of the many people who only recently asked, "What is a radon test and why do I even need one?", you're not alone. Despite being a major risk factor for lung cancer, there’s only a limited budget for radon awareness campaigns from the EPA and state health organizations. Most states publish brochures and papers warning residents, but these attempts at education often suffer from limited circulation. It’s certainly not front-page news in most parts of the country. Many people go their whole lives without knowing about the risks of radon. Don’t wait to find out that it’s a problem by hearing from your doctor after a lung cancer scare or diagnosis. By learning about radon, you’ll be able to protect yourself from its harmful effects.
With most homeowners knowing relatively little about radon gas and its risks, there’s plenty to learn before tackling the problem. Understanding the scope of radon exposure, the parts of the country with the highest levels of gas production, and mitigation costs will prepare you for taking on the challenge.
- Smoking makes radon gas exposure much more likely to trigger lung cancer development. If you’re concerned about radon, quitting smoking is one of the best ways to reduce its impact on your health.
- If you can keep your indoor radon levels at 2 pCi/L or lower, you’ll face a very low increased risk of developing lung cancer due to radon. When you reach the 1.3 pCi/L level that is normal for indoor air, only two non-smokers out of 1,000 will develop lung cancer specifically due to the exposure.3 It’s impossible to have a zero level in areas where radon is common, but reducing the gas level as much as is feasible is worth the effort.
- Radon mitigation efforts depend on the property, the radon levels, and where it’s entering the home. Using a professional radon mitigation contractor is the safest way to lower radon levels in your home.
How Can I Protect My Health?
If you are looking to protect your household from radon, then you need a company that understands the risks that face your family. Radon is a legitimate threat that you cannot see or smell. It could be all around you even though you are unable to perceive it. You need a better understanding of what is going on in the air around you in order to protect yourself. Reliant Radon Solutions has the expertise that you need to protect your household from the ongoing threat of deadly radon gas.
Take it from Tom Kelly3, a former director of the Indoor Environments Division of the EPA: “Radon is a carcinogen, and it does not care how much love you put into your household. It comes to wreck everything that you have done.”
Frequently Asked Questions
These common questions and answers may help you clear up any misconceptions about radon and its risks to your health.
The CDC has set an action level at 4 pCi/l (picocuries per liter of air) and recommends installing a mitigation system to decrease the levels of radon if testing reveals measurements at or above this level3. While this is the safety cut-off for everyday risk that is considered acceptable by most municipalities and local building codes, it is important to keep in mind that even traces of radon exposure can pose health risks. It's important to accurately measure and take the necessary steps to protect those in your home or workplace.
If you buy or build a home that passes radon tests today, there is no guarantee that conditions will not change in the future. The EPA recommends testing your home every two years regardless of previous negative test results4. Establishing a routine for testing tells you a lot more about how radon rises and falls throughout the year in your home. If you need mitigation equipment, you may need to test every six months to ensure your system is working properly.
It is not recommended to handle mitigation equipment installation on your own. Our certified radon mitigation specialists will guide you through the process of obtaining highly accurate test results and pinpointing the primary sources of the gas entrance. Sealing cracks in the foundation, closing up gaps around windows and doors, and putting in positive air displacement systems can all reduce radon levels.
Granite, like any natural stone used to build homes or decorate, contains many of the minerals that release radon gas from the soil. The sparkling crystals embedded in your countertops may include thorium and uranium, two minerals that release radioactive radon gas as they break down over time. The EPA says that granite countertops can release extremely small amounts of radon each year but don’t pose a serious or particular risk5. There’s no need to remove your granite countertops just to reduce your radon levels.
If you have previously tested high, you may want to install a mitigation system to make your home more attractive to buyers. In Colorado a radon disclosure is required for all real estate transactions.
There is no part of the U.S. completely free of the risk of radon gas exposure. Yet there are also some states and regions that experience higher rates of exposure than others. In Colorado there are large deposits of radium and uranium in the soil making this area have a naturally occurring higher radon level.2
- Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Mar. 2018, www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/hmbuygud.pdf.
- Radon and Real Estate Transactions in Colorado, 2018, environmentalrecords.colorado.gov/HPRMWebDrawerHM/Recordview/403382.
- “Protect Yourself and Your Family from Radon.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Jan. 2020, www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/protect-home-radon/index.html
- How Often Should I Test/Retest My Home for Radon?” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 1 Apr. 2019, www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/how-often-should-i-testretest-my-home-radon-0.
- “Granite Countertops and Radiation.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 23 Sept. 2019, www.epa.gov/radiation/granite-countertops-and-radiation.
- “Radon and Cancer.” National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/radon/radon-fact-sheet#:~:text=How does radon cause cancer?,be associated with inhaling radon.
Content & Graphics Used With Permission From Radonova.