There are a number of different potential threats to our health and well-being out there, and some of the most concerning in many cases are those that are extremely tough to notice no matter how hard we try. One of the single best examples of this concept: Radon gas, which is well-known for the fact that it gives off virtually no evidence of its presence — despite the fact that it’s a major threat that causes thousands of deaths per year.
At Absolute Radon Safety, we’re here to help. We provide the very best radon testing and radon mitigation services in Littleton and nearby parts of Colorado, helping our clients become aware of any radon issues that may be impacting their structures — and immediately remedying these problems so your health is not impacted negatively. If you’re just learning about radon for the first time, you may be wondering why it’s so often discussed as a “silent” threat (or even a silent killer, in some cases). Here are the qualities that make radon so tough to identify, plus which make it so dangerous.
Firstly, before we move further, let’s take a quick step back and establish what radon actually is. Radon is a gas that’s part of the uranium decay process, and it’s all around us in very small quantities that aren’t cause for alarm. However, when these quantities become concentrated — typically as a result of being trapped in an enclosed space like your home — they can create a situation that’s very dangerous to your health.
Once radon is present in your home, it can quickly become concentrated to levels that cause major health concerns. In fact, the EPA estimates that radon is responsible for causing roughly 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States alone — and this is a conservative estimate, as it’s tough to attribute lung cancer fatalities specifically to radon exposure in many cases.
How Does Radon Get In?
There are two primary ways that radon can make its way into your home. The first has to do with the fact that, as we noted, it’s all around us in very small quantities. Soil typically contains trace amounts of uranium, which is where radon comes from, and this gas can seep up through cracks or other openings in your foundation and enter your home that way.
The second common entry point for radon is through well water. If your home gets its water from a private well, there’s a chance that this water contains radon that’s dissolved within it. When you use this water for cooking or bathing, the radon gas is then introduced into the air of your home.
Why Is Radon So Dangerous?
There are two main qualities that make radon so dangerous: The fact that it’s colorless, odorless, and tasteless; and the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to identify without taking special steps.
These qualities make it impossible to know if you’re being exposed to dangerous levels of radon simply by being in your home — and unfortunately, the effects of exposure can take years or even decades to manifest, meaning that many people don’t realize they have a problem until it’s too late.
For instance, you may not start to experience symptoms of lung cancer until 20 years or more after the initial exposure to radon. This is one of the primary reasons that the EPA recommends all homeowners have their homes tested for radon at least once every two years: Because it’s the only way to be absolutely certain that you’re not being exposed to dangerous levels of the gas.
What Levels of Radon Are Considered Safe?
The EPA has set 4.0 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air as the “action level” for radon. In other words, if the level of radon in your home is at or below this threshold, no action needs to be taken.
However, if a test comes back with levels above this threshold, it’s important to take action to mitigate the problem as soon as possible. The higher the level of radon in your home, the more quickly you should take steps to address the issue.
In addition, there are many cases where the EPA will recommend or at least suggest radon mitigation if your home has levels of radon between 2.0 and 3.9 pCi/L. While these levels aren’t technically considered “dangerous,” they’re still considerably higher than what’s typically found in the outdoor air, so it’s worth taking steps to reduce your exposure if possible.
The Dangers of Inaction
If you’ve had your home tested for radon and the results come back showing levels that are at or above the EPA’s action level, it’s important to take steps to mitigate the problem as soon as possible.
The longer you wait, the greater your risk of exposure — and as we noted, the effects of this exposure may not be immediately apparent. So even if you’re not showing any symptoms now, that doesn’t mean that you won’t develop serious health problems down the road as a result of radon exposure.
Fortunately, there are a number of different ways to mitigate radon in your home, and most of them are relatively simple and inexpensive. For instance, in many cases, all that’s needed is the installation of a simple ventilation system that will help to remove radon from your home before it has a chance to build up to dangerous levels.
If you’re concerned about radon in your home, the best thing you can do is to have it tested as soon as possible. Contact our team at Absolute Radon Safety today for radon testing or mitigation needs anywhere in Littleton or nearby parts of Colorado; we can’t wait to help you make your home safer and free of these risks.