What is Radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless, invisible radioactive gas. It comes from the radioactive decay of uranium ever-present in the soil. Radon is not a problem outdoors, where it is diluted in the air, but can be a health hazard if it gets trapped inside a home and builds to a high concentration. The unit of measure for radon is pCi/l which stands for picocuries per liter of air. The EPA recommends that radon levels in homes be reduced if the measured level is above 4pCi/l. The term for reducing a home's radon level is called radon mitigation.
What are the health hazards of Radon?
The only known health effect from exposure to radon is lung cancer. Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that become trapped in your lungs when you breathe.
    As these particles emit radiation, lung tissue is damaged, which, with long-term exposure, may lead to lung cancer. EPA risk estimates are based upon lifetime exposures.

Radon is estimated to cause about 14,000 deaths per year. However, this number could range from 7,000 to 30,000 deaths per year. The numbers of deaths from other causes are taken from 1990 National Safety Council reports.

The statistics are even more pronounced for smokers. In fact, if 1,000 people who smoke are exposed to a 4pCi/L level of radon over a lifetime, about 29 will get lung cancer, compared with two out of 1,000 non-smokers exposed to the same conditions. But the good news is that we can make a difference in these statistics by testing and remediating homes as they change owners... and create a healthier environment for current and future occupants.

How does Radon get in my home?
Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium. Some areas have a higher uranium content in the soil than others. Radon gas typically ascends up through the ground and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, resulting in higher radon concentrations in your home. Any home may have a radon problem. Whether you have a new or old home, well-sealed or drafty, full basement or no basement, radon can find its way in.

How do I test my home for Radon?
Common radon test methods include short-term tests such as the charcoal canister and continuous electronic monitor and long-term tests such as the alpha-track technology. Short-term radon tests are typically conducted for periods of two days to one week, long-term tests from three months to a year. Since radon is a gas, it can

change in concentration day to day or week to week based upon a number of factors including weather conditions, ventilation, or heating and air conditioning system operation. Because radon does fluctuate in concentration, the EPA recommends long-term testing which indicates the average radon level over and extended period of time. Short-term tests may produce a false positive or false negative resulting in unnecessary mitigation or worse, an undetected heather hazard.
How do I fix my Radon problem? 
Radon levels in a home, if found to be excessive, can almost always be reduced to a concentration below the EPA action level of 4pCi/l. The technique may be as simple as filling cracks in the basement floor or sealing the sump drain-in short, closing the path of entry into the home. Some radon mitigation jobs, however, require more complex techniques such as the commonly used sub-slab ventilation method. For the purpose of our HomeBuyer's Preferred Radon Protection Plan, properties mitigated through our program are always provided the sub-slab ventilation system. This method involves inserting a plastic pipe through the foundation floor and into the soil so that radon can be drawn out and, through the use of an exhaust fan, ventilated to the outside air. The sub-slab ventilation system is the most effective way to ensure radon levels are successfully reduced. In any case, radon reduction should be performed by NEHA (National Environmental Health Association), NRSB (National Radon Safety Board), and/or state listed radon mitigation contractor. Some states have their own Radon Proficiency Programs, and certify radon mitigators and radon testers through this program. Other states do not. Within those states without Radon Proficiency Programs, one should refer to the NEHA or NRSB national programs for a list of certified mitigators and testers.

For more information on radon, refer to the EPA publication “A Citizen’s Guide to Radon” or contact your state department of health.

Radon information courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency.

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