Is it Safe to Live in a House with Radon Gas?

People get so alarmed upon sensing elevated levels of mold in their houses. However, for radon, that is a different case altogether. It is possible to live with radon without even realizing it. The worst news is that most people are not well informed about this dangerous gas. Even some medics were not taught anything about radon in medical school; they only hear it from patients with lung cancer. This is why you should do your due diligence to investigate the kind of house are buying. This article gives information regarding the safety of living with radon gas in the house.

What is Radon? 

Radon is a dangerous radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil and groundwater.

Preparatory stage for the construction of a ventilated crawl space in an old brick building - Searching gas radon concept image seen through a magnifying glass.

It occurs naturally because it is produced when naturally radioactive materials such as radium, uranium, and thorium break down in soil and groundwater. It can also be produced when some rocks such as granite break off in soil. The gas has no color and odor, and this is what makes it very dangerous. This is because you might be living with the gas in your house without your knowledge.  

The gas is present everywhere but out in the field, it does not pose a serious threat since the air dilutes its concentration. Radon gas seeps from the crawl spaces into living spaces in the house. This takes place through cracks in the floor and walls. This explains why the gas may go undetected for so long unless the house is tested for radon. 

Health Risks Associated With Radon

Experts claim that it is almost impossible to have a completely radon-free house, no matter how you try. They go ahead to say that the much you can do is to keep it within the ‘safe levels’ of below 4 pCi/L of air. Above this level, the gas exposes you to imminent lung cancer from the radioactive particles it carries with it. Lung cancer happens when the radioactive particles attach to the lungs and start corroding them. Radon gas is said to be the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. 

Experts say that the effects of inhaling radon gas may not come immediately but may start to manifest years later when you are diagnosed with lung cancer. Smokers are even at a higher risk of lung cancer than their non-smoking counterparts. The chances of getting lung cancer from elevated radon presence depend on factors such as the amount of radon, amount of time you spend in the house, whether or not you smoke, and the kinds of substances you burn in your house. On the bright side, you can always do something to prevent yourself and your family from the risks associated with radon gas. 

How To Tell Elevated Radon Levels In Your House?

Since radon is colorless and odorless, it becomes very hard to tell whether you are exposed to the gas. One sure way to determine this is by conducting a test. The CDC’s radon communication toolkit is a great test kit. It comes with articles, infographics, and a test kit for professionals and amateurs. Alternatively, you can also contact professionals from the EPA to run a test. The best thing about professionals is that on top of testing, they will also give insights into this mysterious gas and recommend the necessary preventive measures.

What to Do About Elevated Radon Levels

The next question that comes in the mind after finding elevated radon levels in your house is; what then? This part of the article gives measures you can take to prevent yourself from exposure to this deadly gas. 

First, seal all cracks; in the floor and walls using caulk and plaster. Doing this also saves you money with energy bills since it prevents heat loss. It also works by preventing the growth of mold. Improve circulation; open all windows as much as you can and install a good ventilator in your house. Also, quit smoking because it adds to the risk of radon exposure, as it is the leading cause of lung cancer. In addition to these methods, consider having radon-resistant methods. Your contractor should know about them so enquire when building or buying a home. 

Treating lung cancer is something you do not want to take chances with. It uses a lot of money and causes approximately 20,000 deaths annually in the US alone. Have your house tested frequently and take the necessary preventive measures to save yourself from unnecessary hefty medical expenses.