Winter Months Increase the Risk of Radon Exposure

With winter upon us and your family spending more time indoors, it is a good idea to test for radon. When you seal up your home for this chilly season you are not only sealing in the heat, but also radioactive radon gas. It has been estimated that over 20,000 deaths each year are associated with radon gas exposure. Because Iowa is a high-risk state for radon exposure, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends, that every Iowa home be tested for radon.

What is Radon?
Radon is an odorless, invisible, naturally occurring gas. It is produced by the decay of uranium in the earth’s crust, so it is emitted by soil and rock. Radon was labeled as a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1988. It is the leading cause of cancer among nonsmokers in the United States. Radon is hazardous when it accumulates inside of a house, but the gas breaks down and dissipates quickly in the outdoor air.

Testing For Radon
There are many different ways to test for radon, ranging from a 48-hour test to a continuous monitor. You can pick up a short term radon test for your home at a local hardware store. For a more in-depth radon test there are long term radon test kits that remain in your home for 90 days or more. These will give you a more precise analysis of your home’s radon levels. If the results come back and your home’s radon level is 4 picouries per liter (pCi/L) or more, the EPA recommends that your home should undergo radon mitigation.

How Does Radon Find Its Way into My Home?
Radon is found throughout the world. The gas enters most homes through the soil under and around the house. Radon can be especially prevalent in homes with dirt crawl spaces; almost 70% of the time, soil is the source of radon. Radon can also be found in well water. If this is the case radon gas can enter the home as people take showers, baths or run water for other uses. Radon can also find its way into houses through cracks in floors and walls, through floor drains and sump openings, and through holes made for pipes or utility lines. Radon can also be brought into homes through building materials, public water supplies and outdoor air.

How Do I Get Rid of Radon?
The “stack effect” tends to be one of the main problems when dealing with radon. The stack effect occurs as warm interior air rises naturally by convection and escapes from your living space through leaks near the top of the house. This escaping air creates negative pressure (suction) that draws air from beneath your home into your living space. Most mitigation techniques counteract the stack effect using a combination of sealing leaks and forcing radon-laden air outside, where it diffuses harmlessly into the atmosphere. The EPA generally recommends mitigation methods that exhaust radon gas from the soil before it enters your living space. This fan-driven suction technique can work for all different types of house foundations, including slabs, crawl spaces and basements.

Neighbors Heating, Cooling and Plumbing specializes in radon testing and radon removal