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Radon Testing and How It Can Affect You In Your Home

Posted in Air Quality, on September 18, 2015

When was the last time you tested your home for radon? Perhaps it's time you did. Radon is a natural, radioactive gas, which you can't detect without special equipment. It's approximated that someone who doesn't smoke and is exposed to high radon levels over a lifetime has a 1 in 20 chance of getting cancer in the lungs. This number increases to 1 in 3 for a smoker exposed to high radon levels over a lifetime. The toxic gas is colorless, odorless, and you probably won't know of its existence until you get radon testing done for your home. If you don't know how it can affect you, here's how.

What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that could seep into your home while affecting air quality. Its formation arises as a product of uranium decay, and it's present particularly in mountainous and rocky areas. Outdoors, it's diluted and thus not a concern. However, in confined spaces like your home, it can accumulate to high levels, potentially becoming a health risk. Since radon is present outdoors, everybody is exposed to it though at low levels. The only way to discover whether your home has high radon levels is to get radon testing done for its presence. You can begin with short-term radon testing, typically with a home kit or perform long-term radon testing, which offers a more accurate picture of the levels in your house.

Health Effects of Radon

When radon penetrates into your home's air circulation or water supply, it's hard to escape the possible health effects. Radon exposure increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer. When inhaled, the particles from the radioactive decay have an effect on sensitive lung tissue, resulting in damage that could lead to lung cancer. However, it's important to note that not everybody exposed to elevated radon levels will develop cancer. Moreover, the duration between exposure and the onset of the illness may be numerous years.

Sources of Radon

Most indoor radon originates from the soil that penetrates into homes through cracks in the slab or foundation. The gas also enters through gaps between slab and floor, and around pipes and drains. As a result, radon levels are typically higher in basements, ground floors, and cellars. Depending on various factors, its indoor concentration differs from day to day, with the time of the year, and from hour to hour. Therefore, reliable measurements of mean air concentrations must occur for at least three months due to this time variation. The radon amount in soil differs widely and relies on the chemical constitution of the soil. You might discover a huge difference in the concentrations of radon in the soil from home to home. For this reason, radon testing is imperative. Another indoor source is well water. Radon emitted by well water throughout showering or other activities may discharge radon gas into your home.

Factors Affecting Radon

Factors Influencing Radon Levels in homes can differ over time and in varying locations depending on elements including the area's geology and soil type, season and weather as well as building materials.

  • Geology and Soil

Geology and soil type have the greatest influence on a home's radon levels. These are also the greatest radon source. A key factor affecting the flow of radon is how porous the soil is under the home. Bear in mind that rock and soils that are more porous usually permit more radon flow into your home.

  • Season and Weather

These elements also affect the quantity of radon present in your home. Radon isn't very water soluble, so rainfall penetrating the soil will block the soil pores temporarily and decrease the radon flow. Levels of this gas can increase during winter because heating systems can produce a slight accumulation of negative pressure between the interior and exterior, causing more airflow from under the home.

  • Foundation and Building Materials

Some sheetrocks and concretes may comprise materials with high uranium levels that constantly decay to radon. Some concrete foundations are also more porous than others are, or may comprise cracks. These factors permit radon from the rock and soil beneath your home to flow at a faster rate.

If you think radon can't possibly penetrate your home, these indoor sources reveal otherwise, so test your home. If you require assistance with air quality problems, please contact us for a solution: (416)414-5690

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