January was Radon Action Month, and we thought it might be helpful to provide a little more information about this ubiquitous gas that tests high in about one of every three tested homes in our area. According the EPA, Radon-222 is the decay product of Radium-226, which is part of the long decay chain for Uranium-238. Enough with the chemistry lesson, though — we have all seen enough spy or terror movies with dangerous Uranium-238 to know it is nasty stuff. Because uranium is in the earth’s crust, radon is present in almost all rock, soil and water. How much is the critical question.
How much radon is in the soil can vary widely from one subdivision lot to the next depending on the soil chemistry. Radon enters your home through cinderblock basement walls, floor cracks, sink drains, sump pump wells, even the crack between your basement floor and the walls. The soil moisture and porosity along with construction of the house impact how much enters and stays in the home.
You can hire a professional service to measure your radon level, which is what is usually done in house sale transactions. The other option is to do it yourself with a kit from your favorite DIY store for usually less than $30. The placement and conditions for conducting the test are very critical to get an accurate read. So, if you are not big on details, you might want to go the professional route.
If you detect a high level what do you do? Not much you can do about the soil, but radon mitigation systems that draw gases from beneath the foundation and vent it safely outside the house are available. Typically this is installed in the sump pump well, which is then sealed and a fan and pipe system transfer the gases outside. Mitigation is recommended to be completed by a professional and typically costs between $800 and $2,500.
Why should we worry about it? Radon is the top cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Usually, it is being exposed to higher levels that cause a problem. Newer construction homes tend to be much tighter as well so that the radon can be trapped. It is typically at the highest levels if present at all in the lowest level of your home. That is why the testing is always performed in the basement. If you have an exercise room in your lower level and do cardio, it might be wise to check it out. HomeServicesLink provides you with top-notch companies that do both the testing and remediation if necessary. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-271-1888.