Certified Home Inspection Specialist

The Ugly Truth About Radon


Have you ever heard about radon before? Until they buy a home, most people have never even heard about it! Did you know that exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers? Radon is also the second leading cause of lung cancer for smokers in the United States. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 20,000 deaths are contributed to radon each year throughout the United States.

Your home should be a safe place to live – free from any threats such as radon, that endanger your everyday way of life.  The ugly truth about radon is that when someone inhales radon, radioactive particles  can get inside the  lungs. As these radioactive particles break down inside your lungs, the risk of lung cancer begins to increase, taking years before any health problems appear.

What is radon?

Radon is an invisible, colorless, unscented radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium found in soil, water, and rocks. When your outside, radon naturally evaporates. Indoors, it may build-up due to the energy-efficient homes we live in; schools and places of business may also contain radon.

Radon is a toxic gas that can prove to be harmful to your lungs if inhaled over time. Radon can give off the same type of radiation as a nuclear power plant. This poses a risk to your health by damaging tissue and DNA. Studies show that children may be more sensitive to radon because their rapidly dividing cells may be more vulnerable to radiation damage.

Diagram showing radon gas entering a home

How does radon infiltrate the home?

Approximately 1 in 15 homes in the United States contain elevated levels of radon. Whether you live in an energy-efficient home or an older home built in the 1970s, radon can enter your home. The ugly truth about radon is that it enters the home through small openings like cracks in walls, concrete slabs, footings, and small openings, such as those near the sump pump, and is likely to spread rapidly inside a poorly ventilated home once trapped inside.

Just because your home was built within the last year does not mean that it is exempt from radon. Newer homes can also have elevated radon level due to the soil surrounding the house being disturbed as the community is constructed. Even when adding new windows to your home it is good to conduct a radon test. New windows can change the energy efficiency in your home.

Is Radon Testing Necessary?

Most definitely, YES! For those of you who are thinking of buying a home, having a licensed home inspector conduct a radon test before finalizing the sale is smart so you can know before you purchase if the radon levels are elevated. Your real estate agents will be able to refer you to a reliable home inspection company capable of accurately performing a radon test for you. A dependable home inspection company can typically have your test results within about 48-72 hours if you are looking to purchase or sell a home.

Testing any place of residence is worth the investment, even if you don’t own the home. It is well worth the peace of mind to know what your radon levels are. Radon can also affect multifamily units, especially at the second-floor level or below. Although, radon has been found at high floor levels too, due to movement through elevators or air shafts. Radon is serious problem with a simple solution!

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