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Thursday, December 29th by Francine Maglione
Radon is a dangerous gas that could be lurking in your home without your knowledge. It has been blamed for 20,000 yearly deaths from lung cancer, and is currently the second-leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking. How can you be sure that your family isn't at risk? A professional radon testing can tell you if the radon levels in your home are dangerous.
Radon gas forms as the result of uranium decaying in soil. The radioactive gas is released from the soil and travels upward into the air. Radon becomes harmful when it travels through a house and becomes trapped inside. The gas builds up and can become a carcinogen if it is not removed. The leading radon mitigation methods that can be used are best left to professional radon mitigation contractors.
Radon is measured by picocuries per liter (pCi/L), and the Department of Environmental Protection recommends mitigating any building with a radon measurement at or above 4.0 pCi/L. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, around 80 percent of American homes have not been tested for radon. You cannot see, smell or taste radon, so the only way to know if it's in your home is by performing a radon test.
Although there are do-it-yourself home radon test kits available on the market today, they are not the most accurate. This is referred to as the passive form of radon testing. They can provide affordable results but it also takes time to get them, as the homeowner must mail the detector back to the lab and wait to hear back. Organizations have been working to improve the reliability of testing devices and several states have conducted studies to test the reliability of devices in an effort to form a national consensus standard. Generally it is more accurate and more efficient to have a professional radon contractor perform the radon test in your home.
The EPA recommends hiring a qualified professional radon contractor to test for radon in the event that you are buying or selling a home. In many cases, this is even required during a real estate transaction. A Continuous Radon Monitor test is the most precise short-term radon test available today and it only takes about 48 hours to get a reading.
According to Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration News, the primary entry sites for radon are below-grade cracks or openings in the building, including wall and floor joints, cracks in walls and floors, loose-fitting pipe penetrations, and sump pump openings. Radon measurements should be taken in the lowest livable area of a house, such as the basement. It is recommended that all windows and doors remain closed for 12 hours before the test and as much as possible during the test. Aside from passive radon testing, there is active radon testing. Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration News writes that active testing requires a professional sampling team with specialized equipment to visit the house. If initial radon measurements are above the limit of 4 pCi/L, follow-up measurements should be made in at least two lived-in areas of the house.
If you require radon testing in your home, contact your local National Radon Defense contractor. NRD dealers go through extensive training and certification to perform professional radon testing and mitigation across the country.