Add Radon Testing to New Year’s Resolutions

radonJanuary is National Radon Month. Now is the perfect time to test your home for radon, and if necessary, initiate the steps needed to reduce radon levels in your home.

What is radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is odorless, tasteless and invisible. The only way to detect radon in the home is to test.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers, and the second leading cause overall. As many as 21,000 Americans die from radon-related lung cancer each year.

Pennsylvania’s geological makeup increases residents’ risk for radon exposure. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) estimates that “40% of homes have radon levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s action guideline of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L).”

How does radon enter your home?

Radon enters your home through various means. Most commonly, radon leaks into your home through cracks in your foundation, gaps in service pipes, water sources, construction joints and cavities in your walls.

Because your house has less pressure than the soil beneath it, it functions as a vacuum and will suck up the gas underground.

How to test your home for radon

You can purchase a DIY radon testing kit at any local hardware store, or you can have a professional test your home. There are two main types of tests: short-term and long-term. Short-term tests can last between 2 and 90 days, while long-term tests can monitor your home throughout the year.

If the results of your test are above 4 cCi/L, you will want to take actions to fix the issue and reduce the radon in your home. Although, it should be said that just as with lead, there is no “safe” level of radon within a home.

How to reduce radon in your home

The best way to fix a radon issue is to hire a certified radon mediator. You can find a directory of these professionals on the PA DEP’s website. Beware of any contractor that claims an association or certification from the EPA. The EPA does not formally endorse or certify contractors. Instead, look for companies certified by the PA DEP.

When selecting a contractor, ask for estimates from several providers, as well as proof of certification and any photographs or references from previous clients. The Environmental Protection Agency provides several checklists for interviewing and assessing contractors in its Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction.

Depending on your home’s foundation — basement, slab or crawlspace — there are different options your contractor can provide to reduce radon levels within the home. One of the best and most common ways to fix a radon issue is to install a series of pipes with a ventilation fan to capture and divert the gas away from your home. The average cost for radon reduction is $1,500, according to Kansas State University’s

Additional steps to prevent radon

In addition to hiring a certified contractor, there are steps you can take to prevent radon from entering and increasing in your home. Seal any cracks in your foundation or walls. Ensure that your home is well ventilated and continue to monitor your home for increased radon levels.

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