You can’t smell it, taste it, or see it. But it’s radioactive, cancerous, and could very easily be harming you and your loved ones.
As the second most leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, radon has penetrated numerous homes across the nation. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that it’s the cause of nearly 20,000 deaths each year.
One of the six noble gases, radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. Although typically found in rock or soil, radon is also known to be a water contaminant. Since it’s primarily ground-based, radon spreads with the decay of man-made structures, such as homes. Homeowners then breath in the toxic gas, often without even realizing it.
To make matters worse, children tend to be even more susceptible to radon gases. This is mainly because they usually have a higher respiration rate and a greater frequency of dividing cells.
So what can you do to resolve this serious issue?
As a first step, the EPA recommends having a professional home inspector test your home for high radon levels, regardless of whether you are the seller or prospective home buyer. If radon gas is found to be at 4 picocuries per liter (pCi) or higher, make the recommended improvements as determined by your home inspector. Homeowners with lower radon levels are still vulnerable to the gas, but face reduced risk overall.
When it comes to newly constructed homes, inquire into whether or not radon-resistant features were used in the property’s development. Even modern properties are vulnerable to radon gas. Plus, this will give you a better idea of the home’s radon resiliency.
A solid general rule of thumb is to test for radon once per year, similar to an annual health checkup. Due to a variety of circumstances (seasonal changes, living pattern alterations, or home adjustments), radon levels could fluctuate at any time.