Radon Gas in Homes
The Environmental Protection Agency has designated January National Radon Action Month. Their goal is clear; increase awareness of radon gas and the harmful effects it can have on our bodies. In addition to the EPA, the World Health Organization and US Surgeon General are taking action.
Radon is a radioactive gas caused by decaying radium in underground mineral deposits. As the gas seeps up through the earth and enters the air we breathe, it becomes dangerous with concentrated levels trapped in buildings. Any home may have a presence of radon gas, old or new, basement or crawlspace. The stealth intruder goes undetected as it is odor and colorless.
As awareness increases, the data becomes more precise. More homeowners are testing for the presence of radon gas than ever before. It’s not that radon gas is new, but now we know about it and the deadly affects it can have on unsuspecting victims. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and is responsible for approximately 250 Oregonian deaths per year. The EPA estimates the national number close to 20,000 and the World Health Organization says radon causes 15% of lung cancer worldwide.
Sustainably built homes today are more insulated and sealed up. While this lowers the home’s carbon footprint and decreases utilities, it also has increased potential to trap radon gas inside. The truth is you can have the best of both worlds because radon is easily tested for and mitigated! Over the last few years our clients test for radon gas before virtually every sale is complete. This way, if radon is present they can request the seller take care of the mitigation costs prior to closing. Most homes can be fixed with a non-invasive system for $1,200 to $2,000 and we often see the bill come in around $1,600.
New homes can be built with radon reducing features, but all homes can be tested. The US Surgeon General recommends all homes be tested whether the homeowner has been there for years or is a new occupant. Home test kits can be purchased at most hardware stores and specialized contractors can run professional tests. With the increasing awareness of this harmful gas comes an increase in options of detection and mitigation to insure our safety.