Radon Basics: What Homeowners Need to Know
By John Voket, RISMedia Columnist
Every year about this time, I launch into Radon Awareness mode. Since January is National Radon Awareness Month, consumers, renters, homeowners, and those who hope to be in 2011 need to know a few things about this colorless, odorless health threat to you and your family.
There's also a lot to be excited about in 2011 because the home building industry is beginning to react to the need for radon safe homes, especially in areas of the country, or neighborhoods known for concentrations of radon.
Our series of Radon Awareness segments for 2011 kicks off with some basics. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
-Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas found in soil and rock. It seeps into homes through cracks in the foundation, walls, and joints. In some parts of the country, groundwater can be a major source of radon.
-All homes should be tested for radon.
-Among non-smokers, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Lung cancer due to radon exposure claims about 21,000 U.S. lives annually, based on EPA estimates.
-In many cases lung cancer can be prevented; this is especially true for radon-related lung cancer.
-Using common materials and straightforward techniques, builders can construct new homes that are resistant to radon entry.
Now for a little science lesson: the EPA says the average indoor radon level is about 1.3 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) in air in the United States. While the average outdoor level is about 0.4 pCi/L.
Anyone interested in finding a qualified radon service professional to test or mitigate your home, where to obtain or purchase a radon test kit, or ask questions about a radon measurement device or radon mitigation system, contact your state Radon Contact. That person or office will help determine what are, or whether there are, requirements associated with providing radon measurement and or radon mitigations/reductions in your state.
Some states maintain lists of contractors available in their state or they have proficiency programs or requirements of their own. Or just link to your state and other resources through www.epa.gov/radon.