January is Nation Radon Action Month. This Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiative brings the dangers of radon to the forefront of news and media nationwide. Radon is a naturally occurring carcinogen with many case studies showing a direct correlation to Lung Cancer and other possible diseases. Radon is a radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium, thorium, and radium in rock and soil. With no scent or taste and being invisible, Radon is a silent killer that seeps into building structures and does not discriminate against its victims.
The EPA has set an action level against radon of 4.0 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air.) However, regular exposure to this level of radon is equivalent to smoking 8 cigarettes a day, likewise, the radiation level is like having 200 chest x-rays per year. The World Health Organization (WHO) states to take action at 2.7 pCi/L, however, both the EPA and WHO state that there is no safe level of radon exposure.
Studies among miners, laboratory animals, and cancer victims have proven the radon exposure is a cause of Lung Cancer. Radon is the number one cause of Lung Cancer in non-smokers. Cancer from exposure to Radon could take 5 to 30 years to develop; However, there are other ailments that have been linked to Radon. A factor in understanding the full body effect of radon is that one-third of inhaled radon enters the blood stream through the lungs. Radiation has been found in the brains of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients. There have also been studies showing the link between children with Leukemia and Radon, however, the evidence has not been as strong as it being a main cause of Lung Cancer, second only to smoking and causing 21,000 deaths a year.
Safety from high levels of radon is possible, but action must be taken. First, knowing the radon gas level in homes, workplaces, and schools is key. Second, sealing cracks and crevices to help minimize the entry of gas into the structure. Lastly, installing a radon mitigation system in necessary for removing the radon from under the buildings foundation, before it can enter in and affect those within the walls. Radon is naturally occurring and outdoor levels can be as high as 0.75 pCi/L, therefore, taking action means to reduce indoor levels as much as possible.
There are several ways to test levels of radon. Radon testing professionals that have been trained and certified can set up testing devices and results can be obtained in 24-72 hours. Do it yourself test kits can be obtained by going to 911Radon.com and purchased for $5.00 with promo code TSTNOW, available until the end of January. These test kits are simply set up for three days, mailed to a laboratory, and results are available within 72 hours. Long-term test kits are another way of "do-it-yourself" testing. This can take 9 months to a year. These tests will give you the average over time and can be purchased through various outlets. The key to all forms of testing is understanding that radon levels can fluctuate based on the time of year, weather, wind, how well the home is insulated, and ventilation systems in the home.
Radon levels can be elevated in new homes due to the insulation and sealing. As the heat and air conditioning is kept in the home, so is the radon gas. However, with older homes, radon gas levels can be elevated due to cracks in the foundation. Reducing levels of radon with a radon mitigation system is the best way to ventilate radon gas and move it from under the structure to the outside air where it is diluted.
January is the one time of the year that EPA and health experts push testing for radon, however, keeping safe from high levels of radon and the effects of this deadly gas is a year-round process. Take the time to Test, Fix, and Save a life from Radon Gas.