What is radon? Many people have asked the question of what is radon, as far too few people actually know what radon is – and what radon does. So what is radon: radon is a gas that is invisible to the naked eye as well as being odorless and tasteless. When answering the question of what is radon, we also must discuss that it is a gas that is, unfortunately, also incredibly dangerous. It is highly radioactive, exposing a family living in home with at least 4 pCi/L of radon gas to as much as 35 times the total radiation that they would experience if they were standing as close to a radioactive waste site as to be at the fence. When one lives in a home like this for an extended period of time with no changes made to the radon levels, the risk for various health problems becomes even more pronounced.
One of these threats is lung cancer, which is frequently caused by radon (though far too few people actually know that this is a threat that radon can pose). As a matter of fact, up to 20,000 people die of lung cancer caused by radon exposure over the course of just one year here in the United States. This, sadly, makes radon exposure the second leading cause of lung cancer in the entirety of the country, coming in behind tobacco usage alone (according to the United States surgeon general). And if you are living in a home where radon levels are continuing to rise, your changes of lung cancer increase by as much as a full 16% when the radon in your home climbs by as little as 100 Bq per m.
And unfortunately, far too few people are well aware of the risks they are facing in terms of radon exposure or have even asked the question of what is radon in the first place. While far too few people know about radon or have asked what is radon, homes with high levels of radon are not uncommon here in the United States. In fact, seven states in this one country alone have such a high overall concentration of radon that up to one third of all homes within these states have levels of radon that meet or even exceed the action level that has been set by the Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA). The same can be said for at least three Native American reservations. On a country-wide scale, at least one home out of every 15 has levels of radon that are high enough to reach or exceed that above-mentioned EPA action level.
Asking the question of what is radon is the first step – hiring a radon testing company to test your home for radon is the next best option, even if you think that your home is probably fine (for matters like these, it is always better to be safe than to be sorry). A skilled radon testing and inspection company will not only be able to answer your questions surrounding what is radon, but will be able to conduct both short term and long term tests. Typically, short term tests can be used up to 90 days, while long term tests can, as the name suggests, be used often much past this point. Both types of tests are used under the discretion of a residential radon testing company and can be hugely effective for understanding your radon risk.
And if your home is found to have high levels of radon, there are certainly steps that you can take to mitigate your overall risk of radon exposure. For one thing, implementing various passive methods of radon mitigation can be very effective, bringing down your home’s overall radon levels by as much as 50%. If need be, a radon ventilation fan and other tools of radon abatement can be used to reduce the levels of radon in your home by even much more.
At the end of the day, there are many considerations that must be made when it comes to radon and how to lower our risk for it. Happily, reducing radon risk is certainly something that we can all do within our homes.