About the Author
Chris Caisse is a Certified Master Inspector® / Owner of Platinum Home Inspections, located in New Hampshire, USA.
January is National Radon Action Month, and in its honor, the American Lung Association is urging everyone to test their homes – and mitigate if there’s a high concentration. As “THE GRANITE STATE”, this should be of interest to New Hampshire homeowners, because granite formations may contain uranium, which is the precursor to radon…
But What IS Radon?…
INVISIBLE AND ODORLESS
Radon is imperceptible to human senses. Its presence cannot be detected without specialized testing equipment.
AIR AND WATER
Radon can easily penetrate common building materials like concrete and soil. It can enter homes through cracks in foundations, gaps in floors, and other openings. Radon is a highly soluble gas, and it can dissolve in water. Groundwater, particularly from wells and aquifers, can contain elevated levels of radon.
As a naturally occuring noble gas, it holds its shape and has a dense weight (making it sink). It usually can be found in basements. Radon occurs naturally as a decay product of uranium and thorium in the soil. It can enter homes through the ground or water, and build up to potentially harmful levels.
When the radon gas decays into radioactive particles, they can get trapped in lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of a lifetime. How harmful? Approximately 27,000 cancer deaths can be expected for every 1 million persons exposed for a “lifetime” (70 years) at a level of 4 pCi/L.
It’s invisible?? How do I know if I have it in my home?…
RADON TESTING KITS
A radon testing kit will monitor the radon levels of air in a home for a minimum of 48 hours (generally, in a basement or lower-level of the home). During this time, occupants should not open windows. Comprehensive water testing can determine the levels of radon in a home’s water system. Platinum Home Inspections can test for both!
My level is above the recommendations set forth by the USA EPA. What now?
Because the radon is produced through a naturally occurring reaction, mitigation systems help treat the symptom (the cause can not be completely removed; as nature is out of your control). The good news is: the radon-in-air mitigation systems are known to be very effective at bringing the average radon levels below the EPA recommendation, and are generally reasonably priced. Since January 1, 2015, all radon-in-air mitigation designers and installers must be nationally certified to perform those services in New Hampshire. Click here to find a certified radon mitigation installation professional.
As for the radon-in-water, “bubble-up” systems, and/or carbon filters recommended and installed by certified professionals are the popular solution.
Now that you know more about this secretive gas, please inform your families and loved ones to get tested. The tests are not very expensive, and they can potentially offset carcinogenic risk.