common questions radon gas

Common Questions Asked About Radon Gas

As your go-to radon testing and mitigation specialists in Longmont and other parts of Colorado, our team at Absolute Radon Safety often runs into a familiar situation: Our clients don’t really understand what they’re dealing with if they’ve run into high radon levels. Not to worry — we’re here to help with this as well as all your radon mitigation needs.

You have questions — we have answers! Here are some of the most common queries we get about radon gas, plus the answers to help you understand why this gas is harmful, how it’s detected, and how to get rid of it.

What is Radon Gas? Where Does it Originate From?

Many people are unaware of exactly what radon gas is. Radon is a natural, colorless, and odorless gas that’s produced by the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. Outdoors, radon is diluted and isn’t harmful. The problem arises when this gas accumulates indoors in high concentrations — and that’s where it can pose a serious health risk.

Radon can be present in both solid and liquid form, and it can enter your home in a few different ways:

  • Through cracks and openings in the foundation
  • Through gaps around service pipes
  • Through well water
  • Through building materials that contain radon

It’s most commonly found in low areas like basements and crawl spaces.

What Are Some Radon Exposure Signs?

As we noted above, radon can be extremely dangerous when it’s exposed to humans or animals for long periods of time. For this reason, being able to spot some of the most common symptoms of exposure is crucial. Here are a few to keep an eye out for:

  • Breathing problems
  • Frequent headaches
  • Persistent coughing
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Lung infections

Radon poisoning can also lead to lung cancer, so it’s important to get tested if you think you may have been exposed. Many of the basic symptoms of radon exposure also mimic those of lung cancer.

Some will naturally dismiss these symptoms as a common cold or the flu, but if you experience any of them frequently or they don’t seem to go away, it’s important to get tested for radon as soon as possible.

How Deadly is Radon?

Simply put, radon is likely far more deadly than you were aware of if you didn’t know much about it before reading. Radon has radioactive particles in it that can easily be trapped by the lungs, and issues ranging from lung cancer to others may follow. The EPA has estimated that as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the U.S. can be linked back to radon exposure.

This makes radon the second-largest individual cause of lung cancer deaths, trailing only cigarette smoking — which, in addition, is a risk factor that greatly increases your chances of suffering from lung cancer if you’re exposed to high levels of radon.

Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the risk: having your home professionally tested for radon and taking the necessary steps to remove it if need be.

How Does Radon Enter the Home?

As we mentioned earlier, radon forms in the ground. It can move through dirt, rocks, air, water, and even concrete to make its way into your home. Once inside, radon can become trapped and can quickly build up to high levels.

Some of the most common areas for radon entry include cracks, foundation problems, floor joints, gaps around service pipes, and well water. It’s important to test your home for radon regularly to ensure that the levels are safe.

What is a Safe Level of Radon?

To be clear, the only truly safe level of radon in your home is zero. Even tiny amounts of radon can pose risks here.

That said, there are some general thresholds that are typically aimed for when it comes to radon mitigation. For starters, any home or building with radon levels at or above 4.0 pCi/L should have some sort of mitigation system installed.

And generally, mitigation systems for these homes or buildings will aim to reduce the levels of radon to no higher than 2.0 pCi/L. It may be possible to reduce levels even lower than this, but 2.0 pCi/L is typically considered an acceptable level in most cases.

If you have questions about a specific level of radon in your home or building, the best thing to do is to speak with a professional who can help assess the situation and make recommendations accordingly.

What Are Some Common Radon Testing Methods?

Generally speaking, there are two standard methods for testing a home or building for radon:

  • Short-term tests: These tests are designed to bring results in as little as 48 hours and as many as 90 days. They’re designed using charcoal, which is able to absorb radon from the air. The most common type of short-term test is a canister test, which is typically left in the home for two to 90 days.
  • Long-term tests: These tests are designed to bring results in as little as one year but may take up to two years. They use alpha track detectors, which can measure long-term exposure to radon. These tests are generally considered more reliable than short-term tests but may not be as practical in some situations.

Which test is right for you will depend on a variety of factors, so it’s important to speak with a professional about your specific needs before making a decision.

For more on the common questions we get about radon gas, or to learn about any of our radon testing or radon mitigation services in Longmont or other parts of Colorado, speak to the team at Absolute Radon Safety today.

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