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What to Do if Your Home Is Exposing You to Radon Gas

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Has a residential radon testing service detected radon in your home? Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean you need to move. A radon abatement service can save you and your home.

The first step to securing your home against radon gas is understanding what you’re dealing with.

What is radon gas?

Radon gas is a radioactive gas created naturally when uranium or thorium decays. Because of its radioactive properties, it is as a carcinogenic. According to the Surgeon General, radon is the second biggest cause of lung cancer deaths in the U.S., causing as many as 20,000 deaths each year. It is also found above the EPA’s action level in one out of every three homes in seven states.

Radon is found in the air and water. Most radon exposure occurs via inhalation as the particles often attach to dust or other airborne materials. Radon is also a single atom, making it adept at passing through common household materials such as wood paneling, insulation, and paper.

Radon gas is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, making it impossible to detect without radon gas testing. As such, the American Lung Association, American Medical Association, Surgeon General, and EPA all recommend homeowners to have their homes tested for radon gas. Testing will involve either short-term or long-term detection services. Because radon levels can fluctuate day-to-day, its best to measure your home over a period of two days to over three months for best results.

How much radon is too much?

While the EPA has set an action level of 4 pCi/l for radon gas, there is no level of radon exposure which is known not to be potentially harmful. The lower the level of radon exposure, the less risk you have of developing life-threatening side-effects such as lung cancer. However any amount of exposure puts you and your loved ones at risk. Children are the most at-risk when exposed to radon likely due to their higher respiration and increased cell division during growth.

Even at 4pCi/l, you and your loved ones are being exposed to 35 times more radiation than the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows individuals to experience when standing alongside a radioactive waste site.

How do I reduce the level of radon gas in my home?

A radon abatement service can help bring the level of radon in your home down. These qualified radon mitigation and abatement services are available across the country. Depending on the state you live in, radon mitigation services may be required to obtain a state license. If this is the case for your state, you may want to reach out to your state radon office before searching for a radon abatement service on your own as they’ll likely have a list of licensed providers they can give you.

Even if your state doesn’t require a radon abatement service to be licensed (as most states don’t), it’s still important that you ensure the radon mitigation company you work with is properly trained and experienced. Radon professionals have the option of undergoing a National Radon Proficiency Program administered by the National Environmental Health Association. The program includes training courses and examinations to help radon abatement professionals demonstrate their competency. You can visit the National Environmental Health Association’s National Radon Proficiency Program website for a list of certified radon abatement service providers in your area who have completed the program.

If you prefer not to use a radon abatement service, you can try a do-it-yourself approach. There are at-home radon mitigation manuals homeowners can obtain which will guide them through protecting their home. These manuals can be helpful for the DIY homeowner or even the new home builder as some will include chapters on how to build a radon-safe home from the foundation up along with means of preventing radon from entering your home.

Don’t panic but do take action

The most important thing is to recognize that radon is everywhere. It’s virtually impossible to avoid exposure completely. Even if you’re home has radon levels above the EPA’s action level, you shouldn’t panic. Simply educate yourself and take steps such as hiring a radon abatement service to bring your home back to the safe zone.

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