Studies show that nearly 1 out of every 15 houses in the US and 6.9 % of houses in Canada have elevated radon levels.
This radioactive gas is fairly common worldwide, with 56 nations already responding to the W.H.O. radon survey.
Many people know that radon causes lung cancer but don’t know its source. If that’s the case for you as well, this article sheds light on everything you need to know about the origin of radon gas, including what it is, where it comes from, how it causes cancer, and other related FAQs.
What Is Radon Gas?
Radon is a radioactive gas produced by the decay of uranium, thorium, or radium in soil, rocks, and underground water. As you can see, all the particles that can create radon are naturally occurring and can be found everywhere in the world, making this gas very common.
Radon doesn't have any particular taste, feel, or smell. You'll need to do a special test to find its concentration in your home or office. Furthermore, radon can also exist outdoors, even if the concentrations aren’t as high as inside a building.
How Does Radon Get Into Our Homes?
Radon can enter buildings in two ways:
By Rising From the Soil
The air pressure inside a building is lower than in the soil, making air and gas move from high pressure to low pressure. In other words, the vacuum in the house sucks the gas from the soil when created, allowing it to enter from small cracks in the foundation. Other places from where radon can get into buildings include hollow block walls, dirt floors, sump pumps opening in floor drains, and openings in pipes, sewers, and other utility connections.
Via Well Water
Houses that use well water are susceptible to radon. This gas can mix in the water and be released into the air while showering or dishwashing.
You may also sometimes end up ingesting radon if you drink water from the tap. However, it's not a big concern in itself.
But again, the implications aren't in your favor - if the drinking water in your home has radon, there's a high probability that the air has it too.
Note: Drinking water with radon can cause stomach cancer in some rare cases, but the risk isn't as much as cancer in the lungs caused by radon gas in the air.
Does Radon Exist in Every Building?
Yes, almost every residential or commercial building has radon gas; however, not all of them have high radon concentrations. While there is no safe quantity for radon, according to the WHO, levels of less than 2.7 PCI /l (100 Bq/m3) can be considered normal. If the radon concentration is higher, you should take action to mitigate your risk.
Why Are Radon Levels Higher Indoors Than Outdoors?
With its massive volume, outdoor air dilutes radon gas down to a concentration that is negligible. Furthermore, with passing time, more and more radon can accumulate inside a building, increasing the danger. When outdoor air is introduced to the indoors, this fresh air will dilute the indoor radon concentration.
What Makes Radon Cause Lung Cancer?
Radon is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer and the biggest cause of the disease in non-smokers.
As we discussed earlier, it is a radioactive gas. This gas releases tiny alpha particles into the air, which can collect in your lungs when inhaled. These particles eventually release tiny bursts of energy, slowly damaging your lung tissue and increasing your risk of developing lung cancer.
Does Radon Cause Other Types of Cancer?
Based on existing evidence, lung cancer is the only disease that can be caused by inhaling radon.
Rarely, radon can cause stomach cancer when ingested. This phenomenon is similar to what happens in the lungs - consumed radon can diffuse into radioactive particles that can stick to, and damage the stomach linings, eventually causing cancer.
Please note that more research is needed on this topic because some studies associating radon and stomach cancer have mixed results.
What Types of Houses Are More Likely to Have the Radon Problem?
Honestly, there is no one common answer to this question.
Generally, homes with slab-on-grade foundations and crawl spaces are more likely to have radon since they have many openings that allow the gas to enter. Furthermore, the risks of radon exposure can be high for people that use their basement as a living space.
But again, the radon levels in the indoor air can depend on many other conditions and variables, like the presence of radioactive materials in the soil, building materials, etc. And remember, even neighboring houses can have very different radon levels.
Hence, it's difficult to generalize, and every homeowner should be wary of radon. Every individual house/unit/dwelling needs to have a test done to determine it's risk level associated with radon.
How Can I Know the Radon Level in My House?
You can use either one of these amazing radon test kits to find the amount of this radioactive substance in your house.
These kits provide you with a hockey puck looking device to be placed in the basement or a room you use often.
Depending on the type of the type of kit you use, you will wait between 2 and 90 days or between 90 days and a year before sending the detector to the lab for analysis.
On the other hand, you can also contact a professional radon technician for radon testing. They will be able to give you more accurate readings faster, but usually at a greater cost.
What Can I Do About the Elevated Radon Levels in My House?
The most common radon-reducing strategy requires the assistance of a radon mitigation specialist. The specialist will install a radon mitigation system consisting of fans, pipe and accessories to vent the radon away from the home, into the outdoor atmosphere.
Depending on the situation, the specialist will need to match the right strategy with the right circumstances. Some of these mitigation strategies include: aeration, GAC, sub-slab suction, sump-hole suction, or block-wall suction.
Radon is produced by the radioactive decay of uranium in the soil and can migrate upwards towards the surface. It can make its way inside your home through cracks, holes, gaps, penetrations, crawlspaces and others.
No matter where you're located in the world, when moving into a new house, you must test for radon regularly to keep your family safe from lung cancer.
Finally, you should contact a radon mitigation specialist if the levels are close to or higher than the recommendations given by your national health authority.
Radon's presence in homes is a matter of great concern because long-term exposure to high radon gas concentrations can lead to an increased lung cancer risk. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that all homes be tested for radon and that corrective action be taken if necessary to reduce exposure.
So what is a safe radon level? While there is no known "safe" level of radon, the EPA has set an action level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air. This is the level at which the EPA recommends taking corrective action to reduce exposure.
For all of our Canadian readers, 4pCi/L is equivalent to 148 Bq/m2.
There are a number of ways to reduce radon levels in your home, and the type of corrective action you take will depend on the level of radon present and the type of home you have.
Here's a closer look at radon levels and what you can do to reduce your exposure.
Safe Radon Level: At a Glance
As we mentioned earlier, there is no set "safe" level of radon. However, the EPA has set an action level of 4 pCi/L, which is the level at which they recommend taking action to reduce radon levels.
The EPA's action level is based on the fact that if you are exposed to radon at this level over a long period of time, your risk of developing lung cancer is about 1 in 10,000. This might not seem very high, but it's important to remember that lung cancer is a very serious and deadly disease.
So, while there is no "safe" level of radon, the EPA's action level is a good guideline to follow. If your home has elevated radon levels (above 4.0 pci l), you should take steps to reduce it.
How To Check Your Home's Radon Level
If you're concerned about radon in your home, the best way to find out if you have a problem is to test for it. Radon testing is simple and easy to do, and it's the only way to know for sure if you have a radon problem.
There are two types of radon tests: short-term tests and long-term tests.
Short-Term Radon Tests
Short-term radon tests are typically used to test for radon over a period of 2-90 days. These tests are the most common type of radon test, and they're relatively inexpensive.
Short-term tests can be done with either electronic monitors or charcoal canisters.
Electronic monitors measure radon continuously and can be set to take readings over a period of days, weeks, or even months. On the other hand, charcoal canisters are placed in your home for a set period of time (usually 2-90 days) and then sent to a lab for analysis.
If you use a short-term test, it's important to remember that radon levels can fluctuate from day to day and even from hour to hour. So, a single short-term test might not give you an accurate picture of your home's overall radon level.
For this reason, we recommend using a short-term test first, followed by a long-term test if the results of the short-term test are 4 pCi/L or higher.
Long-Term Radon Tests
Long-term radon tests are used to test for radon over a period of more than 90 days. These tests are more accurate than short-term tests in terms of measuring your home's overall radon level.
If you're thinking of buying a home, it's important to have a long-term radon test done before making the purchase. This will give you an accurate picture of the level of radon in the home and whether it needs to be mitigated.
Long-term radon tests are typically done with either electronic monitors or alpha track detectors.
Electronic monitors, as we mentioned earlier, measure radon continuously and can be set to take readings over a period of months or even years. Alpha track detectors, on the other hand, are placed in the home for a set period of time (usually 90 days) and then sent to a lab to be analyzed.
Both types of long-term radon tests are considered equally reliable. The main difference is that electronic monitors tend to be more expensive than alpha track detectors.
What is the Average Indoor Radon Level?
The average indoor radon level in the United States is about 1.3 pCi/L. However, this number can vary significantly from home to home.
In general, homes in the Midwest and Northeast have higher radon levels than homes in the South and West. This is because of the geological conditions in these regions.
In some areas of the country, such as Colorado, Minnesota, and North Dakota, the average indoor radon level is closer to 3 pCi/L. In these states, it's estimated that 1 in 3 homes has a radon level above 4 pCi/L.
If you live in an area with a high average indoor radon level, it's especially important to test your home for radon and take steps to reduce it if necessary.
What Are the Health Risks of Radon?
Breathing in air that contains radon can damage the lining of your lungs and lead to lung cancer. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, behind smoking.
Smokers who are exposed to radon have an even greater risk of developing lung cancer. This is because smoking damages the lungs and makes them more susceptible to the effects of radon.
It's important to remember that radon is a radioactive gas, so it can't be seen, smelled, or tasted. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test for it.
If you're thinking of buying a home, we recommend having a radon test done before making the purchase. This will give you an accurate picture of the level of radon in the home and whether it needs to be mitigated.
If you're already living in a home with elevated levels of radon, don't panic.
There are things you can do to reduce the level of radon in your home and protect your health. These include:
While there isn't an official "safe" level of radon, the EPA recommends taking action to reduce your exposure if your home has a radon level of 4 pCi/L or higher. So, if your house has a radon level lower than that, you're probably in the clear.
Of course, the best way to know for sure is to test your home for radon and take action to reduce it if necessary. This will help protect your health and the health of your family.
When it comes to keeping your family safe from radon, there is no such thing as being too cautious. This colorless, odorless, and radioactive gas can seep into your home through cracks in the foundation or other openings, and long-term exposure can lead to lung cancer.
According to the EPA, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, resulting in about 21,000 deaths yearly.
There is no safe level of radon exposure, so it's important to test your home regularly and take steps to mitigate the risk if elevated levels are found.
So, how do you go about testing for radon? There are a few different ways, but the most common is with a radon test kit. These kits are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, making them an excellent option for most people.
In this article, we'll take a look at five of the best radon test kits on the market. Let's dive in!
The 5 Best Radon Gas Test Kits To Keep Your Family Safe
1. Long-Term Radon Test Kit
When it comes to radon gas test kits, that's what we do! We strive to make every aspect of our product, and your experience, the best it could possibly be. That's why our product is at the top of the list!
Our test kits are designed to be all inclusive, comprehensive, super accurate, quick, and very easy to use. All you have to do is open the package, place the test device in the lowest level of your home that is lived in regularly, and wait 90 days before sending it off to the lab.
The lab will take care of the rest. Once they receive your return package, they will analyze the detector and then send you the results by email, as well as post it on your online account.
After the 48-hour period is up, you simply seal the device in the included envelope and send it off to the lab for analysis. The results will be emailed to you within 72 hours of the lab receiving the device.
We also sell a kit that is designed for short-term testing, one that is best used when/if you suspect that there may be elevated levels of radon in your home.
For more accurate results than a short-term measurement, go with this option. We guarantee it won't disappoint.
2. Airthings Wave Plus Smart Radon Detector
If you're looking for a long-term or short-term radon detector, the Airthings Wave Plus is a great option. This battery-operated device can be placed on any flat surface in your home and will take readings continuously.
We understand this option is not a radon test kit per say, but it is still a very popular radon monitor with great reviews.
The Airthings Wave Plus uses Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone, so you can view the real-time results of the radon readings. You can also check the historical data to see if there has been an increase in radon levels over time.
If the device detects elevated levels of radon, it will send you an alert to your smartphone so you can take action to mitigate the risk. What sets the Wave Plus apart from other radon detectors is its additional features, such as indoor air quality monitoring and temperature and humidity readings.
3. AccuStar Charcoal Canister Radon Test Kit
The AccuStar Charcoal Canister Radon Test Kit is another short-term testing option that is simple to use. Just like our Radon Test Kit, you'll place the device in the lowest level of your home, but for 2 days instead of 90 days.
After the two days are up, you'll seal the device and send it back to the lab for analysis. Within a few days, you'll receive your results in the mail. Since all costs are included in the price of the kit, there are no hidden fees.
One thing to keep in mind with charcoal canister test kits is that you can only use them once. So if you want to test for radon regularly, you'll need to purchase multiple kits. On the other hand, real estate agents or home buyers can use this one-time test to get a snapshot of the radon levels in a home.
4. Airthings Corentium Radon Monitor
While the Airthings Wave Plus is our top pick for a long-term radon monitor, the Airthings Corentium Home Radon Monitor is a close second. This device is similar to Wave Plus in that it will take continuous readings and send you alerts if elevated levels of radon are detected.
However, what makes the Airthings Corentium Home stand out is its portability. This device is powered by AA batteries, so you can take it with you if you move to a new home or office.
The clear digital display makes it easy to see both short-term and long-term trends in radon levels. A self-inspection report feature allows you to generate a PDF report of the radon readings, which can be helpful if you don't want to spend money on a professional inspection.
The main difference between this device and a detector like the one in our Radon Test Kit is that it's less accurate because of the technology it uses to sense/detect the alpha particles that come from radon gas.
5. Health Metric Radon Test Kit for Home
The Health Metric Radon Test Kit for Home is another great option for those looking for an affordable, easy-to-use radon gas test kit. This charcoal-based test kit is designed for short-term testing and can be used to test for both radon gas and radon in water.
Taking just a few minutes to set up, the Health Metric Radon Test Kit for Home comes with everything you need to get started, including clear instructions. Once the test is complete, simply mail the results back to the lab (postage is included), and you’ll receive your results within 3-5 business days.
If you’re looking for a reliable and affordable radon gas test kit, the Health Metric Radon Test Kit for Home is a great option.
Radon gas testing is an important part of any home safety routine. By testing for radon, you can ensure that your home is safe for you and your family. The 5 radon test kits we've reviewed here are some of the best on the market and they will help find the answers you are looking for.
So why wait? Get testing!
A passive radon system makes use of natural airflow and pressure differentials to remove radon gas from your house. These types of systems typically run from drain tiles/basement sump baskets up until the roof. Since there is no active fan involved in venting the radon, this system is termed as ‘passive’.
These systems are completely noiseless and use no electricity. However, this does not make a significant difference as compared to their active counterparts due to the already low power consumption ratings.
Home owners who do not want pipes running around their house, running the appeal; go for these mitigation systems.
Let us know more about passive radon systems.
How is Radon Harmful?
Before we dive into passive radon systems, let us understand why one should invest in a mitigation system.
Radon is a radioactive gas, whose solid particles get trapped in human lungs and damage lung tissue, causing lung cancer. In fact, radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer in the US. The EPA predicts that each year, roughly 21,000 Americans succumb to lung cancer linked to radon.
What is a Passive Radon System?
A passive radon mitigation system removes radon from your home without the aid of an active component by utilizing the natural pressure differential and outside air currents. They are not so common in newer houses, but can be commonly seen in older buildings since they can only be installed before the foundation is laid.
Although installing passive systems properly during new construction is essential, it is not typically suggested as a stand-alone solution. Passive systems can only deal with low radon levels, but fail to be effective when the levels are high. Even the slightest modifications in the system can impact the performance severely.
Active systems on the other hand, use an electric fan and are able to push out radon at a faster rate. The advantages that you get with these type of systems are:
How Does A Passive Radon System Work?
In a passive radon system, radon normally escapes through the roof via a pipe from the sump crock or drain tile in the basement.
Systems for measuring passive radon rely on the "stack effect". It works by moving air from a high pressure zone to a low pressure zone and vice versa. Difference in pressure causes movement of heavy radon particles.
However, relying solely on the stack effect wouldn’t cut it. It normally isn't sufficient to considerably lower radon levels in a passive radon system because newer homes are now built airtight for energy efficiency.
How Much Does A Passive Radon System Cost?
Installing a new passive radon mitigation system can cost between $771- $1,185. This can go up to $3,000 in homes with complex layouts and larger sizes.
Costs for radon mitigation systems are determined by a few parameters. Property’s size and design, climate, foundation type, location, labour expenses, permit fees, testing, inspection, and radon system type are a few of them.
Converting a Passive Radon Mitigation System Into Active an Active System
Converting a passive system only involves one step: Fitting a fan with the pipeline which can be connected with an outlet nearby. This can easily be done if you locate an electrical outlet and get a fan installed near that point. In some houses however, layout restrictions might come in the way of direct installation, which can make the process difficult.
All in all, this depends on how your house is structured and whether or not you have a power outlet near the pipes.
A passive radon system is simply a no-fan version of a mitigation setup that does not take up any electricity and relies on pressure differences for ventilation. Though this system has its advantages when it comes to being noise-free, these are outweighed by how effective an active system can be.
Not only this, but an active system can also do a much better job at regulating radon levels in your house due to a dedicated component which prohibits radon particles from staying inside the system.
Radon gas is probably the last thing on your mind when you think about your home. After all, it's not something you can see, smell or taste, so it's easy to forget that it's even there. But radon gas is a real threat to your family's health, and it's important to take the necessary steps to mitigate it.
As the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, radon gas is estimated to cause about 21,000 deaths each year in the United States. That's why it's so important to protect you and your family by having a radon gas mitigation system in place, in your home.
But with so many different types of mitigation systems on the market, it can be tough to know which one is right for your home.
Here's a quick guide to the best radon gas mitigation systems for your home, so you can keep your family safe from this invisible threat.
What Is a Radon Gas Mitigation System?
By now, you've probably realized how big of a threat radon gas can be and that a radon gas mitigation system is a must in any home. But what, exactly, is a radon gas mitigation system?
A radon gas mitigation system is designed to remove radon gas from your home and keep it at safe levels. Technically it won't remove the radon from your indoor. Technically it extracts the radon from the ground, which results in a significant decrease in indoor radon concentrations since radon comes from the ground.
There are a few different types of systems, but they all work to achieve the same goal: reduce the amount of radon gas in your home. There are different types of systems because there are different methods one can use to mitigate radon.
Radon gas mitigation systems work by either drawing air from your home and venting it outside, sealing radon out from your home, or by extracting the radon from the source, AKA the ground. This process helps to keep the levels of radon gas in your home at a safe level, so you and your family can breathe easy.
The Best Radon Gas Mitigation Systems for Your Home
Now that you know a little bit more about radon gas mitigation systems, let's take a look at the best ones for your home.
Active Sub-slab Depressurization (ASSD)
Active sub-slab depressurization is one of the most effective radon gas mitigation systems on the market. Also known as sub-slab depressurization, this system works by drawing air from beneath your home's foundation and venting it to the outside.
This system is most effective in homes with a poured concrete foundation. Even if the basement is completely finished, ASSD will still work effectively.
One or multiple suction pipes are installed in the basement after coring a hole through the concrete slab. They are then connected to a radon fan that draws air from beneath the foundation before venting to the outside. This process helps to keep the levels of radon gas in your home at a safe level.
ASSD systems are extremely effective - the most effective type of system that exists currently. Regarding the cost, when comparing it to a furnace or HRV, it is significantly cheaper.
Passive Sub-Slab Depressurization (PSD)
Passive sub-slab depressurization is similar to ASSD, but doesn't require a vent fan. Instead, this system relies on the natural pressure differential between the indoor and outdoor air to draw air from beneath the foundation and vent it to the outside.
PSSD systems are associated with radon-resistant construction techniques, which are designed to prevent radon gas from entering your home in the first place. These construction techniques can be used in new construction settings or during a home renovation.
PSSD systems are effective, though not as effective as ASSD systems. They're also less expensive to install and require very little to no maintenance.
Soil suction is a type of radon gas mitigation system that's typically used in homes with crawlspaces. This system works by drawing air from the crawlspace and venting it outside.
One or multiple suction pipes are installed in the crawlspace and are connected to a radon vent fan that draws air from the crawlspace and vents it to the outside. This process helps to keep the levels of radon gas in your home at a safe level.
Soil suction systems have proven to be very effective at reducing radon levels in homes, especially when they are combined with a membrane sealed overtop of the soil and/or rock. They can be trickier to install compared to an ASSD system.
Block Wall Suction
Block wall suction is similar to soil suction, but it's typically used in homes with block walls instead of crawlspaces. This system works by drawing air from the spaces between the block wall and the foundation and venting it to the outside.
Basement homes that have hollow block foundation walls can benefit from this type of system. By utilizing a fan and ductwork, this system draws air from the block walls and then vents the radon gas to the outside, helping to keep the concentration levels of radon gas in your home below the guideline.
Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV)
Older homes that don't have good ventilation can benefit from a heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system. This type of system helps to improve the air quality in your home by drawing fresh air in from outside while simultaneously exhausting stale indoor air to the outside.
HRV systems are typically used in homes that are built so air tight that they require a mechanical means of ventilation. These systems are also used as solutions in homes that have other indoor air quality issues, such as mold or radon.
As mentioned earlier, HRV systems work by drawing fresh air from the outside and exhausting stale, indoor air. The fresh air is drawn through a heat exchanger, which helps to cool or heat the air before it enters your home. This process helps to not only improve the air quality in your home, but it can also help to reduce your energy bills.
No one wants to be exposed to radon gas, but unfortunately it's presence in homes is a concern worth addressing.
Luckily, there are a variety of effective radon gas mitigation systems that can help to keep your family safe. The 5 systems described above are some of the most popular and effective systems on the market.
If you live in Ontario and you are someone in need of a radon mitigation system, contact Simon Air Quality. They would be happy to help you. They are C-NRPP certified with years of experience removing radon from buildings all over Ontario.