January was designated as “National Radon Action Month” by the Environmental Protection Agency (E. P. A.) in an attempt to raise the awareness and general understanding of radon and its’ dangers. As we ‘slide’ through and out of February, I’m a little behind on the awareness program, but I guess late is better than never. So, just what is radon and the ‘big deal’ about it so much so that the E. P. A. would proclaim a month for the public to become aware of radon, learn about it and do something about its presents? Well, for starters, radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that results from the natural decay of uranium found in most soils. The problem with radon is that it is not detectable through normal means and requires testing for its’ presents. The good news is that the test kits are actually inexpensive (around $20) and can be found at many home improvement stores, or by going to the California Department of Health Services website ( www.cdph.ca.gov/Health-Info/environhealth/Pages/RadoninCalifornia.aspx ). The E.P.A. reports the Surgeon General of the United States as saying that radon is responsible for thousands of deaths annually, and it’s been purported that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer following smoking. So radon is a big deal! The way we come into harmful contact with radon is actually in our homes. Radon moves up through the soil and into our homes through cracks in the foundation walls, gaps/cracks in floors and gaps around pipes. Radon is measured in Pico curies per liter (pCi/L). The average radon concentration outdoors is 0.4 pCi/L and indoors is about 1.3 pCi/L. If you have indoors radon levels of 4 pCi/L or higher, you should perform a second short-term test to verify the first test. If the test results still show a 4 pCi/L level or higher, the E. P. A. recommends that you take action to reduce radon down to acceptable levels as soon as possible. Radon can also exist in well water, which can pose a hazard when drinking the water or breathing in the radon when showering. Supposedly one in fifteen American homes contain high levels of radon according to the E. P. A. If, after testing your home you find that you do have elevated levels of radon present, you should hire a licensed radon mitigation Contractor to make the necessary alterations and ‘fixes’ to safely carry the radon gas out of your home with out you coming in contact with it. Typical fixes include ventilating crawl spaces (area under the floor of the home) or the area under basement or concrete slab floors. Sealing the gaps and cracks in floors and the gaps between the foundation and the home. Many times suction type fans and stack tubing is employed to draw the radon out from under concrete slab floors and carry it up out and above the living area of the home where it can dissipate harmlessly. So, spend a few bucks and take a couple of minutes to buy the test kit and use it to check and make sure you and your family are safe in your castle.
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