Radon is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Radon is a radioactive soil gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks, block work, sump pump pits and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed homes, and drafty homes with or without basements. Your home can be safe but yet your neighbors house could have elevated levels or vise versa.
How much radon is in your home? It depends mostly on the uranium content of the rock and soil beneath your house. Large deposits of uranium ore are located throughout the United States. In Sweden, the lot has to be tested for radon before a house may be built because of the uranium content in the Shale. The following building materials can also contribute to elevated levels: granite, cement made with fly ash, phospho-gypsum and uranium glaze block. Uranium ore is mined for atomic fuel, the waste from this process is referred to as tailings or slurry, it is stored in large piles at these sites. At times it was given away to builders who used it as backfill and to make concrete and other building materials. As much as 10 million tons ended up in Grand Junction, Colorado affecting hundreds of buildings. Radon gas is also picked up by natural gas. This is more likely to be a problem if you live near a wellhead. The majority of the natural gas used by consumers is pumped, mixed and moved around so much by the time it reaches consumers that the majority of the radioactivity is decayed by the time it reaches homes.
Nearly 1 out of 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Elevated levels have been found in all States. The only way to know if your home has elevated levels is to test. It is easy and inexpensive.
Radon in water becomes radon in air.
The primary source of radon in homes is from the underlying soil and bedrock. However, an additional source could be the water supply, particularly if the house is served by a private well or a small community water system. Radon gas is soluble in water. Many public water supplies use surface water (reservoirs) so that water is arrogated by the time it gets to you and therefore has lower radon levels. Smaller systems however may contain high levels. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated as many as 30,000 of these smaller systems may have elevated levels.
If your home or the home you are considering buying has been found to have radon in air concentrations of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/l) or greater, have the water tested if the house is served by a private well or a community well, e.g., underground sources.
People have had their house mitigated only to find out the problem was in the water. Having a knowledgeable tester who can provide both tests can save you money and frustration.
You can estimate how much of the radon in the air is
caused by radon in the water using the following rule of thumb: For every 10,000
pCi/L of radon in the water, 1 pCi/L would be emitted into the air. For example,
if there is 40,000 pCi/L in the water, this will contribute about 4 pCi/L to the
air. 4 pCi/L is the EPA action level. It is recommended
that buildings with elevated levels (4pCi/L or higher) be mitigated. During showers, baths, washing laundry and dishes,
even flushing the toilet this radon in water
becomes radon in air. Some radon stays
in the water; drinking water containing radon presents a risk of developing
internal organ cancers, primarily stomach cancer.
If you must mitigate because of radon in water, it is important to treat the water where it enters the home. Trying to treat the water at the kitchen sink, for instance, would not be effective in reducing the amount of radon that enters the home.
Why should you be concerned?
The EPA has declared radon a Class A Carcinogen; it is known to cause lung cancer in human beings. Radon gas decays into radioactive particles (progeny) that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they breakdown further, these radioactive particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. The time between the exposure and an onset of the disease may be as much as 30 years. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer, just as not every one who smokes will develop lung cancer. Speaking of smoking - Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Smoking combined with radon is an especially serious health risk. Radon contributes to more than 1/2 of the natural annual background radiation exposure an individual receives. Children are at a greater risk than adults are. Click here and your child can learn environmental safety and health issues the fun way.
The lowest level of the house is usually the most dangerous. Unfortunately when we remodel to add a bedroom or game room it is in the basement. What is in your lowest level? Depending on the construction of your house, radon can be funneled up to the living quarters through the block.
If your real estate transaction requires a radon test, learn all you can about your rights and responsibilities before the test is done. Don't let your dream home be a health risk. You have the right to choose the radon tester.
You have the right to work in a safe environment.
People tend to spend many hours indoors. In addition to their home, people may spend many hours at work.
Our children have a right to attend school or daycare in a safe environment.
To help you understand radon, the importance of testing for radon and the health risks of excessive exposure to radon. We conduct professional and honest radon testing and provide accurate reports.
#1 Radon Tester is owned and operated by Celia Rajkovich. Celia has 20 + years of experience in Health Physics. We also offer assistance in other areas of ionizing radiation.
What does Health Physics have to do with radon?
A Health Physicist (HP) protects people and the environment from unnecessary exposure to radiation. Excessive levels of radon is unnecessary exposure. An HP is dedicated to the development, education and applications of radiation safety. Take time today to learn something new - learn about background radiation.
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Last modified: September 23, 2012