What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas formed from the radioactive decay of uranium found in rocks and soil. Radon gas rises freely through loose gravel, cracks and underground fissures finding its way into homes and buildings. When the air pressure inside a building is lower than the air pressure outside the building, a vacuum is created that can pull radon through concrete pores, cracks and openings in the foundation and around pipes and joints. Elevated Radon levels and long term exposure in a home or building are considered health hazards.
You cannot see Radon, you cannot smell it or taste it, however, it is possible that it is in your home. Radon is a radioactive gas. When you breathe, air containing Radon gas, this unstable radioactive gas breaks down, sending trillions of charged particles on a collision path to the cells in your lungs. The electrical charge and impact to the cells can result in lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths.
What can be done to help protect against radon?
The first step is to test your home for radon and have it remediated if it is at or above EPA's Action Level of 4.0 pico-Curies per liter. That's equivalent to 200 chest X-rays each year! Because the level of radioactivity is directly related to the number and type of radioactive atoms present, radon and all other radioactive atoms are measured in pico-Curies. For instance, a house having 4.0 pico-Curies of radon per liter of air (4 pCi/L) has about 8 or 9 atoms of radon decaying every minute in every liter of air inside the house. A 1,000-square-foot house with 4 pCi/L of radon has nearly 2 million radon atoms decaying in it every minute. Generally, levels can be brought below 2 pCi/l fairly simply.
The best method for reducing radon in your home will depend on how radon enters your home and the design of your home. For example, sealing cracks in floors and walls may help to reduce radon. There are also systems that remove radon from the crawl space or from beneath the concrete floor or basement slab that are effective at keeping radon from entering your home. These systems are simple and don't require major changes to your home. Other methods may be necessary. People who have private wells should test their well water to ensure that radon levels meet EPA's newly proposed standard.
Is there Radon in your Home?
Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. Testing is inexpensive and easy — it should only take a few minutes of your time.
Is there Radon in North Carolina?
Radon can be found in most regions of North Carolina. Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon gas has been found in high levels in all types of homes; homes with slab foundations, homes with crawl space foundations and homes with basements. You and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home, where you spend most of your time.
How is Radon Detected?
There are many ways this can be performed. Charcoal Canisters, Self-Test kits and Continuous Radon Monitors. The canisters and kits also require a laboratory to analyze the results and send the report back. This process will add weeks to the testing process.
We use Continuous Radon Monitors. We feel these units are the best choice to use for our clients. And you will know, at the end of the test, what the results are the same day. There are also features that are built-in to the continuous monitors that will detect if someone tampered with the test location or powered down the unit during the testing period. This tamper detection is very important for accurate test results and is not available with the other test methods mentioned above.
What is the Testing Process?
We have found that many people including other home inspectors do not properly set-up the radon test. This will effect the results and may not give you the information you need. Here are some important things you need to know. We leave these instructions at every home that we test.
How much does it cost to test your home or building?
We offer Radon testing using the Continuous Radon Monitor for $225 for the initial test. We offer a $50 discount if the radon test is scheduled as a part of your complete home inspection within the capital region.