How does Radon get into your home?
Radon gets in through:
- Cracks in solid floors.
- Construction joints.
- Cracks in walls.
- Gaps in suspended floors.
- Gaps around service pipes.
- Cavities inside walls.
- The water supply.
Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation.
Your home traps Radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a Radon problem. This means new and old homes, well sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.
Radon from soil gas is the main cause of Radon problems. Sometimes Radon enters the home through well water. In a small number of homes, the building materials can give off Radon, too. However, building materials rarely cause Radon problems by themselves.
Nearly one out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated Radon levels. Elevated levels of Radon gas have been found in homes in your state.
While Radon problems may be more common in some areas, any home may have a problem. The only way to know about your home is to test. Radon can also be a problem in schools and workplaces.
Ask your state Radon office (www.epa.gov/radon/whereyoulive.html) about Radon problems in schools, daycare and childcare facilities, and workplaces in your area (also visit https://www.epa.gov/Radon).
You can’t see Radon, but it’s not hard to find out if you have a Radon problem in your home. All you need to do is test for Radon. Testing is easy and should only take a few minutes of your time.
The amount of Radon in the air is measured in “picocuries per liter of air,” or “pCi/L.”
There are many kinds of low-cost “do it yourself” Radon test kits you can get through the mail and in some hardware stores and other retail outlets.
You can hire a qualified tester to do the testing for you, if you are buying or selling a home, but first contact your state Radon office about obtaining a list of qualified testers. You can also contact a private Radon proficiency program for lists of privately certified Radon professionals serving your area.
There are two general ways to test for Radon:
Short-Term Testing: The quickest way to test is with short-term tests.
Short-term tests remain in your home for two days to 90 days, depending on the device. “Charcoal canisters,” “alpha track,” “electret ion chamber,” “continuous monitors,” and “charcoal liquid scintillation” detectors are most commonly used for short-term testing. Because Radon levels tend to vary from day to day and season to season, a short-term test is less likely than a long-term test to tell you your year-round average Radon level.
If you need results quickly, however, a short-term test followed by a second short-term test may be used to decide whether to fix your home.
Long-term testing: Long-term tests remain in your home for more than 90 days.
“Alpha track” and “electret” detectors are commonly used for this type of testing. A long-term test will give you a reading that is more likely to tell you your home’s year-round average Radon level than a short-term test.
For links and more information, visit https://www.epa.gov/radon
—Information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)