January is National Radon Action Month.
What is radon? Radon is a naturally occurring gas in rocks, soil, and groundwater that you cannot see, smell, or taste. Radon is a radioactive gas produced when uranium in soil decays; it can be found all over the United States. Radon gas moves up through the ground into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation, becoming trapped inside.
You can’t see, smell, or taste radon, but it can be harmful—it is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States among the population, and the primary cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon is estimated to cause over 20,000 deaths each year, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA estimates that about one out of every 15 homes have elevated radon levels. In the Driftless area it is closer to one out every 10 homes have elevated radon. Check out the map below.
Any home can have a radon problem. Testing is the only way to know if radon levels are high in your home. If radon levels in your home are above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), the EPA recommends taking action to reduce your exposure.
Tri-State Home Inspections LLC does radon testing using a continuous radon monitor with results provided as soon as the test period is done, with a minimum of 48 hours from the time the test is started.
There are advantages to using a continuous radon test:
- The continuous radon monitor has the ability to time integrate the radon measurement. Most continuous radon monitors, as a minimum, integrate hourly
- Most models of continuous radon monitors come equipped with other environmental sensors to simultaneously measure other parameters like; ambient temperature, barometric pressure and relative humidity.
- Most continuous radon monitors have the ability to collect and store their measurement data. This data can then be downloaded and used to generate various reports about the radon measurement.
Test kits can also be purchased from most hardware stores or the local county office may provide them. Test kits will need to be mailed into a lab to be analyzed and usually take 1-2 weeks to get the results.
If your home has high concentrations of radon there are ways to reduce it to acceptable levels. If you need a professional, you may wish to look at the list of certified radon mitigators for your state. Radon problems can be fixed by a do-it-yourselfer with the right knowledge and skills.