Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 34 seconds
Who knew your house could hurt your lungs? Here in Idaho we live in a relatively moderate Radon level region that seems to get more intense the further north you live.
It turns out Radon is even emitted from slabs of granite along with almost all other products of the earth like concrete itself, but we must put it all into perspective.
The majority of information about Radon’s health effects come from men working underground – miners
Radon (Rn) is a gas that is emitted from the earth. It is the natural byproduct of deteriorating uranium and it gets into the air through the soil and through water. It is easy to test for and fairly easy to deal with if found in homes to be above the 4 pCi /liter. Here are some selected excerpts from one of the EPA radon sites.
EPA estimates that about 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. are radon-related. Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Lung cancer is the only known effect on human health from exposure to radon in air. There is no evidence that children are at greater risk of lung cancer than are adults.
For smokers the risk of lung cancer is significant due to the synergistic effects of radon and smoking. For this population about 62 people in a 1,000 will die of lung-cancer, compared to 7.3 people in a 1,000 for never smokers. Put another way, a person who never smoked (never smoker) who is exposed to 1.3 pCi/L has a 2 in 1,000 chance of lung cancer
in 1988 Congress added Title III on Indoor Radon Abatement to the Toxic Substances Control Act. that year, the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General issued a warning about radon urging Americans to test their homes and to reduce the radon level when necessary
Unfortunately, many Americans presume that because the action level is 4 pCi/L, a radon level of less than 4 pCi/L is “safe”. This perception is altogether too common in the residential real estate market. In managing any risk, we should be concerned with the greatest risk. For most Americans, their greatest exposure to radon is in their homes; especially in rooms that are below grade (e.g., basements), rooms that are in contact with the ground and those rooms immediately above them.
Testing is easily accomplished and test kits are available at hardware stores and big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. They are usually the quick tests and will give you a screening of what you are dealing with. Radon is emitted at in an uneven pattern so what you are looking for is your average exposure through the year. This means taking several tests or doing a long term testing kit that takes 90 days.
There is a common misconception that Radon levels are similar in geographic areas. Just because a level may be low in your neighbors house does not mean that it is low in yours.
At Levco we enjoy knowing that we have not set anyone up for additional health risks by remodeling. We make sure that when we do remodel here in Boise Idaho that the soil beneath our projects are left sealed properly and cracks in slab floors and foundations are sealed as well. Here is the further information about Radon in ADA County.
Fixing any home involves sealing cracks in foundations, covering bare soil and if necessary providing forced ventilation to areas where it is hiding. This may mean under foundations. In all of my home inspections I have only seen one Radon elimination fan system. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking more seriously at the potentially nasty little problem.
After a client did an in-home radon test and discovered that there was some in her basement. Being a cancer survivor herself, we wasted no time installing a system for her. It was fairly simple and inexpensive. She was pleased and I am awaiting the results of a follow up radon test to be sure we solved the problem.