What is Radon? Why have your home tested?

When you’re a homeowner, the safety and well-being of your home and your loved ones are always at the forefront of your mind. While some hazards are easy to detect, others, like Radon, are not. If you’re unfamiliar with Radon, you’ve come to the right place. The most important thing to know is that it’s the #1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Likewise, smokers who are exposed to high radon levels will be at a much greater risk of developing lung cancer.


What is radon? While it might seem daunting, education is key when it comes to Radon. This gas occurs when uranium and rock beneath and surrounding the home begin to decay. It’s a senseless, naturally occurring gas that is actually found underground in the soil that surrounds your foundation, causing dangerous levels to seep into the home without your knowledge. This puts homeowners with dirt crawl spaces at a significantly higher risk than those without. Once in the home, radon slowly eats away at the outer layer of the lungs, sometimes becoming trapped, and causing cancer to develop. Its harmful effects can even be seen in household pets such as cats and dogs. While this information might seem overwhelming, there are a few steps you can take to lower the risk for you and your loved ones. The first, assessing any symptoms that align with exposure to radon.


How to tell if you’ve been exposed? The symptoms of radon exposure may seem similar to other common ailments but should be taken very seriously. Signs and symptoms include a persistent cough, hoarseness, wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, chest pain, frequent infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fatigue. Similar symptoms can be seen in household pets. If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, the National Radon Defense recommends first getting in touch with your primary care physician, and second, getting your home tested as soon as possible.


How to Test for Radon: There are many services in the surrounding area that offer radon testing and mitigation for your home. The testing process begins with a “Continuous Radon Monitor (CRM)” being placed in your home for a few days to adequately gauge radon levels. Another option would be a charcoal test, free with an estimate through American Waterworks, which sits in your home for two days to gauge radon levels. Radon is measured in picocuries per liter, or pCi/L, and is judged on a scale of severity. 1 pCi/L of radon is equivalent to 2.5 cigarettes a day. The National Radon Defense states that the recommended level at which to take action is a 4, which is the equivalent of 100 chest x-rays or 10 cigarettes.


Radon Mitigation: Your home has been deemed unsafe, now what? Your radon mitigation contractor, with your input, will install a mitigation system that will work to pull the radon out from within the home and expel it out and away from the home. The type of system that your contractor will recommend will vary based on the type of home foundation design. Furthermore, any entry points where radon could seep into your home will be sealed off. After the final system check is performed, your technician will return within 30 days to monitor the situation and ensure that your radon mitigation system is working properly. 

American Waterworks offers both radon testing and mitigation services. Click here to find out more about radon and how we can help better protect you and your home.


What is Radon? Why have your home tested? - Image 1

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