Radon gas represents a common — yet frequently overlooked — problem for many homeowners. This poisonous gas has been estimated to be responsible for as many as 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Many of these people were living with radon in their home for years and years without ever knowing it.
Fortunately, you can protect your family from radon by having your home tested by a trained professional. If you would like to learn more about the undeniable importance of radon testing, read on. This article will offer a useful introduction to the subject of radon, touching on its composition, effects, and methods of elimination.
As noted above, radon is a type of gas recognized to cause cancer. Radon represents an especially subtle threat thanks to the fact that it cannot be detected by means of sight, smell, or taste. Radon represents a byproduct of the decay sequence of the radioactive element known as uranium, and can be found to greater or lesser extent in igneous rock, soil, and also well water.
Radon is unique among gases in terms of its weight, being the heaviest known gas. It possesses an atomic weight nine times greater than that of oxygen. Radon also constitutes what is known as a single atom gas, unlike oxygen, which in its gaseous state contains two atoms. As a single atom gas, radon can more easily penetrate into a wide range of materials, from paper, to sheetrock, to wood paneling and insulation.
In the Home
Radon tends to accumulate in the basements of homes. There are two reasons for this. For one thing, the subsurface location of a basement makes it much easier for radon to penetrate in from the soil through the process of diffusion. Once inside the home, the heavy weight of radon will cause it to settle at higher concentrations inside of the basement.
Radon diffusion occurs at higher rates when facilitated by what is known as pressure-driven air flow. This occurs as the result of a negative pressure differential between the soil and the inside of the home. Such a differential commonly stems from the use of exhaust fans — for instance, in the kitchen or bathroom — clothes dryer air outlets, furnaces, and stoves.
As these appliances push air into the outdoors, they reduce the amount of pressure inside of the home. As this pressure drops lower, it makes it easier for radon to be pushed in from the relatively higher pressure soil around your home.
Radon gas only becomes a health threat when present in high enough levels. The concentration of radon gas is measured in terms of picocuries per liter — pCi/L, for short. According to the EPA, radon represents a significant health problem when present in concentrations greater than 4 pCi/L. Approximately 6% of all homes in America experience radon levels above this threshold.
In order to keep your family safe, be sure to have your home tested for radon. There are two types of tests that a professional inspector can perform to assess your radon levels. The first utilizes what are known as passive devices. These consist of activated charcoal kits left in the home for a predetermined period of time.
The passive device will gradually accumulate radon gas atoms. It will then be sent away to a laboratory that will assess the amount of collected radon. The second method of testing for radon involves the use of so-called continuous radon monitors — or CRMs, for short. For more information about which type of radon test will yield the best results for your home, please don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Custom Comfort.
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