What you Don’t Know and Can’t See Can Hurt You
Could there be a chance that the air in your home is polluted by a completely odorless and colorless gas that damage lungs and can potentially give you and your family lung cancer? Wouldn’t you want to know if it was in your home? The gas in question is radon, and given that January is Radon Action Month; a month when we normally spend much more time indoors; it is a good time to learn more about it.
A few years ago, I became concerned about radon in my my home because the bad news is – Walworth County is a high risk area for radon. The soil in our area contains an unevenly distributed and generally small amount of uranium, the same mineral that is mined for fueling nuclear power plants. When uranium starts breaking down in soil, rock or water, one of the byproducts of this breakdown is radon gas. If your house is built on soil that contains some uranium, this radioactive gas can seep through cracks, sump pumps and other openings in basement floors and walls. The location of radon can be very sporadic. Your home may have a high radon level, and your neighbor’s home can be just fine.
The EPA estimates that radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year in the U.S. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. If you do smoke and your home has elevated radon levels, your risk of lung cancer goes up even more. The good news is that this problem does have solutions.
The best way to find out if you have a radon problem is to do a radon test. The Environmental Production Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General of the United States recommends that the test be done in the living areas of your home where your family spends most of their time.
The testing procedure is very simple. It involves buying a small test kit, setting it up in the living area following the instructions, leaving it in place for the amount of time indicated, and then sending the kit back in a self-addressed pre-paid mailer. The lab will send you easy to read results within a week or two, or even earlier if you provide your email address.
Testing is inexpensive. You can get a test kit from the Walworth County Public Health Department for $10. (Contact Walworth County Public Health at 262-741-3140 to pick up a kit.) Or you can purchase mail- in test kits for less than $25 at local hardware stores.
I did the radon test on each floor of my home and found that I had a very high level of radon gas detected in the lower level and first floor; the main living areas. Since I had a problem, I knew I needed to install a system that would get the radon out of my home. Such systems need to be installed by a qualified contractor. While the cost of fixing this problem can seem high (typically $800-$1,200) it is a real bargain when weighed against removing the threat of lung cancer from your home.
The winter months are the perfect time to test your home for radon and make sure that your family is protected against this invisible threat to their long-term health. If you find out that you too have high levels of radon in your home – call me at 262-723-3588 for qualified radon mitigation specialists to contact.