Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless, and inert. Most cases of radon exposure happen inside homes, workplaces, and institutions. This gas gets trapped inside after it enters the building through cracks and holes that are present in the foundation. Radon can contaminate an object; however, it is not a persistent contamination and you can always mitigate this problem by involving professionals. In this article, we will be discussing how radon contaminates objects and what you can do to prevent that from happening.
Contamination by radon
Radon is a noble gas which means it does not accumulate and doesn’t diffuse out of any object easily. Based on this reason, no object should contain more radon per volume than the amount of air it is stored in.
As a result, handling such an object is considered less dangerous compared to breathing in the air where it exists. Therefore, a simple air exchange will remove any traces of radon from the object in the shortest time possible.
Contamination by radon decay products
In theory, radon can decay into solid particulates which accumulate on the surfaces of stored objects. Since the lifespan of these particulates is very short, removing the object outside the radon-containing environment causes them to decay to lead-210. This reduces radiation concerns for such objects because the actual radon levels will be low when the decay products turn to lead. Therefore, it won’t pose any chemical contamination risk either.
A typical scenario in a home environment – radon exposure
There is no need to be overly concerned about radon content when you store clothes or furniture in a basement as long as you take necessary precautions when retrieving them from storage. That would mean washing the clothes or wiping the surfaces of the objects which often eliminates the concerns that might not have been there in the first place.
However, the major potential contamination thread that one can imagine is storing food with the lid open in a radon-containing environment, and then eating it more or less directly. The jars and cans won’t pose a major threat but the fruits, vegetables, and foodstuffs that were left in the open might present a different story if consumed directly. However, there is a possibility of getting more radon exposure while fetching your apple from the basement rather than eating it. This is because you will wash the fruit before eating it but the fact that you breathed in air contaminated with radon gas while walking inside the basement should be of more concern.
When should you take action against radon?
First of all, it is essential to test your home for any traces of radon. Although there are home kits advertised in stores that you can use to conduct the test, the safest and most efficient way would be to contact a qualified professional. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends taking action against radon contamination when it is at 4 pCi/L of air or goes beyond this mark. However, it is important to aim for a lower mark because there is no ‘safe’ amount of radon contamination. When buying a new home, it is important to check for radon levels before moving in and ensure all necessary measures have been put in place to mitigate the problem.
How to mitigate the radon problem
Lowering the high levels of radon in a home or commercial building requires special skills and technical knowledge. A qualified professional working with a reputable radon mitigation company can help fix your home. Although there are several ways to reduce radon exposure in your home, one of the most used ways is the installation of a vent pipe system and fan that extracts radon from underneath your house and vents it outside your house. This radon mitigation process is referred to as a soil depressurization system.
The appropriate system for minimizing radon exposure largely depends on your home’s design and other factors such as whether your home has an underground basement. Once all systems have been put in place, you need to conduct another test to ensure there are no radon traces in the air and that the system is working correctly.
Radon exposure poses a significant health risk to homeowners since you can get exposed for a long time without knowing it exists. Radon can contaminate objects but it tends to be more dangerous when it is present in the air we breathe. The best way to guarantee lower levels of radon gas in a home is to conduct a test and perform the necessary mitigation procedure. Not only will this keep you safe and healthy but also give you peace of mind knowing that your family is safe from the effects of exposure.