Radon is a radioactive gas that is released by Uranium decay products found in rock and soil and is present everywhere. Outdoor levels are typically very low and present little risk. Indoor levels tend to be higher due to the natural “stack effect” or suction that occurs as warm air rises through the home and out of the attic. Well water can also be a contributing factor to indoor Radon levels.
Radon is considered the second leading cause of Lung Cancer next to smoking being the first and second hand smoking coming in at third. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that Radon causes 21,000 deaths per year. The EPA recommends that every house be tested and mitigated if the levels are above 4.0pCi/L.
From my own records over the last several hundred Radon tests that I have performed in the Lehigh Valley, 43% of homes have Radon levels at or above 4.0pCi/L.
A myth that I often hear is that if the home is on a slab or does not have a finished basement then it won’t have Radon. Radon levels can be high on all levels of the home and the “Stack Effect” which draws Radon out of the soil will still occur on a home that is built on a slab. Also, if one house has elevated Radon levels, it does not mean that the neighboring house will also. The only good way to be sure is to have your home tested.
The good news is that high Radon levels are easily corrected. Most homes can be mitigated for less than $1,000. Radon mitigation systems are very effective at reducing Radon levels to near outdoor levels and require little maintenance.
For more information on Radon health risks, testing and mitigation, read the EPA’s Citizen’s Guide to Radon.