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What is Radon? FAQs About Your Home’s Indoor Air

What is radon — and why are testing and mitigation essential steps for a healthy house? Whether you are in the market for a new home, have recently bought a new property, or have never tested your house for this odorless, colorless gas, take a look at the top radon questions homeowners have answered.

Is Radon Natural?

Yes, radon is a naturally occurring substance. Unlike some contaminants that come from vehicle emissions, factories or manufacturing, home improvement products, or cleaning products, radon isn’t a synthetic (man-made) pollutant. This radioactive gas is found in trace amounts in the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Is Radon Found Indoors or Outdoors?

Radon testing and mitigation is done inside of your home. Does this mean the gas is only found indoors? 

Even though you can find radon inside, this naturally occurring substance is primarily found outdoors. The gas moves through the air and into groundwater or other surface water sources. Radon can seep into the soil (through groundwater or other sources) and remain underground. The gas can move from the ground into your home through the foundation, cracks in the floors, construction joints, gaps around pipes, and through walls. 

While fresh air diffuses exterior radon and makes it less of an issue outdoors, it can pose problems inside of your house. Unlike radon in the atmosphere, interior radon can’t dissipate easily. This leaves concentrated gas inside of your home.

Why is Radon Problematic?

Again, radon is a naturally occurring substance that doesn’t cause significant problems in the atmosphere. But when it enters your home, radon can put your family’s health at risk. According to the EPA, this invisible radioactive gas is the top cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and the second leading cause of this disease (for smokers and non-smokers) in America. The EPA notes that the effects of radon result in nearly 21,000 lung cancer-related deaths annually.

How Do You Know If Your Home Has a Radon Issue?

Radon isn’t like natural gas. While you can sniff the air to easily detect the sulfur-like smell of a natural gas leak, this type of sniff test won’t help you with radon. Detection of this cancer-causing gas requires a special test. The EPA suggests mitigation if your home’s radon levels are four picocuries per liter or above.

Can You Test for Radon Yourself?

You can buy a DIY radon test. But it’s preferable to hire a professional for this job. A DIY kit isn’t an immediate answer to your potential radon problem. Most kits require the user to follow a strict set of instructions. This may include leaving the kit out to collect a viable sample and sending it to a lab for analysis. You may also need to seal windows or vents and find the perfect place to collect samples.

If you’re not sure how to get the best results, don’t know what factors could impact the test, or want the reassurance of a professional test, contact a radon testing and mitigation contractor. A professional has the knowledge and experience to collect and analyze a sample. The radon testing contractor can also help you to better understand how the issue affects your household and provide you with steps to treat the problem.

What Should You Do About Radon?

If the contractor found radon levels of four picocuries per liter or higher, what should you do next? Never attempt a DIY approach to this issue. Professional radon mitigation services can reduce the risks to you and the rest of your household members. A mitigation system can decrease the levels of this substance in the interior air by up to 99 percent.

Do you want to know more about your home’s indoor air? Contact Breathe Wright Radon and Air Quality Services for more information.