What Is Radon, we are so often asked?
These are some frequently asked questions regarding radon:
What is it?
Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless naturally occurring radioactive gas that is in the air you breathe and the water you use for drinking, bathing and cooking. At high levels it is a serious health hazard.
How does it get into my home?
The gas can seep into your home from the soil beneath it through dirt crawlspaces, cracks in the foundation and walls, floor drains, pipes and sump pumps. If you get your drinking water from a well, it can also be a source of radon in your home.
I have a new home with no cracks or other openings, so why should I test?
As a gas, it can seep through tiny cracks that you might not even see. It can get into finished or unfinished basements, and into new homes as well as old. You won’t know if it’s in your home unless you do a radon test.
The builder says my new home is radon resistant, so I can’t have it, right?
Even if you have purchased a home with Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC), unless you, the builder or a home inspector tested your new home for radon, that’s not necessarily so. Although the name Radon Resistant New Construction implies that the home resists radon, RRNC simply is the installation of radon system pipes without a radon mitigation fan. Without the fan, the home is “radon system ready,” but not resistant to radon entry.
If it is a health hazard, what are the symptoms?
Radon is a sneaky gas. Just as you can’t see it, smell it or taste it, it also gives you no warning that it is harming your health. There’s no rash or headache or fever. It causes lung cancer, which often presents no symptoms until it is advanced. The only way to be safe from radon-related lung cancer is to test for it and have the radon mitigated if the level is above 4.0 pCi/L.
How can radon in my well water enter my home?
When you run your water – for drinking, cooking, bathing or when running your dishwasher or washing machine – radon gas escapes from the water into to the air, adding to the radon level of the air you breathe. The major danger of it in water is inhalation; however, there is also a danger from ingesting it, which is believed to cause a small number of stomach cancers each year.
How do I test?
You can either test your home yourself or hire a certified radon testing professional. If you choose a do-it-yourself home test, you have several choices, starting with a short-term or long-term test. Most homeowners choose a short-term, 48-hour home radon test kit. They are easy to use and come with step-by-step instructions. A long-term test device, called an alpha track, is left in place for 3 to 12 months before you send it to the laboratory for analysis. A testing professional will use one of these devices or an electronic continuous radon monitor to test your home.
What is a High Level?
There really is no safe level of radon exposure. Radon gas is measured in picoCuries per liter (pCi/L). The current airborne radon level at which the EPA recommends action is 4.0 pCi/L. Further, the EPA says to consider action if the level is 2 to 4 pCi/L and suggests that every home and workplace be tested for radon gas in the air.
Its concentrations often are much higher in water than in air. As a general rule, a measurement of 10,000 pCi/L of radon in well water will contribute 1.0 pCi/L throughout the household air. However, this may vary depending on the amount of water used, the air exchange rate of the building and the proximity of an airborne test to the point of water usage. The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendment of 1996 mandates the adoption of municipal guidelines. It is believed that the final maximum contaminant level for radon in municipal well water will be between 300 and 4,000 pCi/L. State recommendations for waterborne radon vary, so check with your state radon office for information.
Contact Rick or Tracy Ellis at 636-299-3702 or 636-699-2197 if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home!
Tune in to The Rick and Tracy Ellis Show on 97.1 FM News Talk Saturdays at 4:00 PM & Sundays at 10:00 AM