Do You Really Need Radon Testing?

Most people think about radon testing when buying or selling a home. And that's certainly a good time to consider it. But radon doesn't typically pop up right before a real estate transaction; it can show up anytime, completely undetected. So how do you know if it's in your home, and do you really need to be all that concerned about it? Here's how to know if you should get your home tested.

What exactly is radon?

Radon is a radioactive gas that's completely odorless and invisible to the naked eye. It arises from soil and rock as uranium decays. Low levels of radon are pretty much everywhere, and that includes the air we breathe.

Radon comes into your home a number of ways. It can waft up through the tiny pores in your foundation or through gaps and holes in the walls. The way your home is designed and how airtight it is can affect the amount of radon, and you might have low levels while your neighbor's are high. Radon levels can also vary in different spots around your house.

What are some other sources of radon?

Radon gas comes from rock and soil, but there are a few other sources that have been discovered, one of which is well water. If the well itself was made by drilling into a layer of bedrock that contains radon gas, it can seep into the water. Exposure then comes from ingestion through drinking.

Radon has also recently been found in certain types of granite. But if you have granite countertops in your home, there's no need to panic. Most kitchens and bathrooms that have granite are typically well ventilated, so the risk of exposure is pretty small.

How is radon dangerous?

Radon gas can cause lung cancer in some individuals. According the EPA, it's estimated that around 20,000 people die each year from lung cancer and exposure to radon. For those who are exposed to radon through drinking water, they may be at risk for stomach cancer, but that risk is extremely small.

Fortunately, years of testing have shown that low levels of radon exposure are to be expected and don't really pose as much of a danger to people as high levels do. The EPA has determined that homes that have a reading of 4pCi/L lead to a 1% chance of dying from lung cancer and should be treated.

Should you test your home for radon?

Testing for radon in your home is a good idea for multiple reasons. First, it's impossible to know if you're being exposed. You can't see it, smell it, or even taste it if you drink well water.

Second, several states have conducted their own surveys, and no one really knows what percentage of homes contain dangerous levels of radon. Some estimates say that 1 in 3 homes have levels that exceed 4pCi/L while other surveys claim it's closer to 1 in 5 homes. The EPA claims that about 8 million homes may have high levels of radon gas.

Third, testing doesn't cost a lot, and you can even do it yourself with a home testing kit.

Short-term tests measure radon in your home for just a few days, and you mail the kits to a lab to get the results. Long-term kits are also available and are typically more accurate because the levels can vary from day to day. Other monitors are permanent and display continuous readings of radon levels in your home.

You can also have your home professionally tested, which will give you optimal and accurate results. If high levels are found, your home can be easily treated with a ventilation system. And if it's found in your drinking water, activated charcoal can be used to remove the radon.

To learn more about this process, contact a wall sawing company that can help perform radon testing and solutions. 

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