The Dangers of Radon Gas

Radon Awareness

Radon is a serious health risk facing tens of thousands of Americans. It is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Exposure to radon gas causes more than 22,000 deaths annually.

National Radon Action Month - Image 1

What is Radon?

You can’t see, smell, or taste radon, but it could be present at dangerous levels in your home. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas produced by decaying uranium in rocks and soil. Radon gas decays into fine particles that are radioactive. When inhaled, these fine particles can damage the lungs. Exposure to radon over a long period of time can lead to lung cancer. 

Where Does Radon Come From?

Radon is produced from the natural decay of uranium, found in rocks and soil. Uranium breaks down to radium, and radium eventually decays into the gas radon. Radon is present in nearly all soils. It can get into any type of building - homes, offices, and schools - and result in a high indoor radon level. You and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home, where you spend most of your time. Radon concentrations are up to ten times higher during the winter, and homes with crawl spaces are at a higher risk for radon issues.

Is There a Safe Level of Radon?

Any radon level poses some health risk. While it is not possible to reduce a radon level to zero, the best approach is to lower the radon level as much as possible. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the action level at 4 pCi/L (picocuries of radon per liter of air). It is highly recommended at 4 pCi/L or higher, a radon mitigation system is installed to reduce the radon level.

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What Are the Health Risks of Radon?

It is the number one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers. Your risk for lung cancer increases with higher levels of radon and longer periods of exposure. If you smoke, the combined risk of smoking and radon exposure is higher. Exposure to radon is a preventable health risks and testing radon levels in your home can prevent unnecessary exposure. 

How Does Radon Enter a Home?

Radon levels are very low outdoors but can accumulate to high concentrations in the home. This depends on radon levels in the soil, pathways for radon to enter the home, and the driving force. Air pressure differences between outside air and the inside air act to drive radon into the home. 

National Radon Action Month - Image 3

How Can You Test Your Home for Radon? 

A radon test is the only way to find out how much radon is in your home. All homes should be tested for radon and then retested every 2-5 years (save your test results).You should test after you make changes to the foundation, heating, cooling or ventilation and consider testing before a major remodeling project to determine if radon mitigation should be added into the project. Then, retest after adding a radon mitigation system to make sure it is working properly.

How Can American Waterworks Help with Radon?

American Waterworks of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin can help you by providing radon testing and a FREE estimate on the cost of installing our radon mitigation system in your home. We can perform an inspection and conduct a radon test in your home in as little as two days! 

How Do Mitigation Systems Work? 

The most effective system is a vent pipe placed in the sump pit (if you have a sump pump) or a hole made under your concrete floor slab. A special in-line radon fan is placed in the attic or outside the house to draw air through the vent and radon from under the basement floor. The easiest method is to run the vent out the side of the house and up to the eaves. You can also run the vent up through the house and out the roof. The goal of the radon mitigation system is to reduce the indoor radon level as low as reasonably achievable. All systems should reduce radon below the EPA action level of 4 pCi/L (picocuries of radon per liter of air).

National Radon Action Month - Image 4

PVC pipe collects soil gasses

Radon is piped upwards in the building

A radon depressurization vent forces radon out from your house

The EPA and the U.S. Surgeon General urge all Americans to protect their health by testing their homes. Call American Waterworks today to take action! 


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