Radon gas is drawn into homes or buildings through cracks in the foundation or slab and through unsealed pipes, sumps, drains, walls and other openings. Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is produced by naturally decaying uranium and radium. As radon decays, it forms radioactive by-products, which can be inhaled and cause damage to lung tissue. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that all homes in the United States be tested for radon gas.
Radon gas and radon in the air can be breathed into the lungs where they breakdown further. These particles release a small burst of energy, which are absorbed by nearby lung tissue, and have been shown to increase your risk of developing lung cancer.
While radon is common outside, it is diluted to very low levels and is not a concern. However, radon that enters an enclosed space, such as a home, can sometimes accumulate to high levels. Today, homes can be built to reduce the amount of radon coming in by using radon-resistant construction features.
Testing for radon is simple and relatively inexpensive. Depending on the test, the kit remains in your home for 48 hours to 90 days. Because radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, short-term tests are less likely to measure your annual radon exposure.
Long-term tests remain in your home for more than 90 days. A long-term test will give a more accurate annual average radon level than a short-term test.
Methods for abatement
A variety of methods are used to reduce indoor radon levels, from sealing cracks in floors and walls to changing the flow of air into the home. Simple systems use pipes and fans to remove radon gas from beneath the concrete floor and foundation before it can enter the home. Radon is then vented out above the roof, where it safely disperses. Other methods may also work in your home. The right system depends on the design of your home and other factors.
Cost of removal
Lowering high radon levels requires technical knowledge and special skills. You should use a contractor who is trained to fix radon problems. The cost of making repairs to reduce radon depends on how your home was built and the extent of the radon problem. Most homes can be fixed for a reasonable cost.