If you’ve recently tested your home for the presence of radon gas and have found unsafe levels of it in your structure, you’ll naturally be looking for every possible solution to remedy this problem. The primary such solution will be a radon mitigation system, but some homeowners wonder about other nuanced efforts they can make in this area — and one common such area is the opening of various windows to let radon out.
At Absolute Radon Safety, we’re happy to provide quality radon testing and radon mitigation services to clients in Longmont and several other areas of Colorado. What impact can opening windows have on your home’s radon levels, and is said impact enough to make this a worthwhile practice? Here’s a primer on this area.
Why is Radon a Risk?
Before we move any further, let’s remind ourselves why radon is such a risk in the first place. Radon is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless gas that can cause lung cancer. It’s estimated to be the second-leading cause of this disease in the United States, killing approximately 21,000 people annually.
Radon is dangerous for several reasons, most notably due to its radioactivity. The presence of radon in your home is the result of natural uranium decay, and when you breathe in air that contains it, this gas can damage the DNA in your cells — and over time, this increased cell damage can lead to lung cancer.
Of course, if you live in an area with naturally high radon levels (such as Colorado), or if you have a home that’s particularly susceptible to radon infiltration (such as a home with cracks in its foundation), your risks will be higher.
Opening Windows Works — To an Extent
If you’re looking to aid in the removal of radon from your home once it’s been discovered, opening your windows for ventilation can be effective — but only in a moderate sense. It’s absolutely true that ventilation is a major part of the EPA’s recommended approach to mitigating high radon levels in a home, but opening windows is a relatively crude format for this.
Now, if you’re opening several windows in the area impacted by radon, there’s a chance of this having a non-trivial impact. Radon is, after all, a gas — and as such, it will rise. So if you have high levels of radon near the floor and open a window to let this gas out, there’s a non-zero chance that you’ll be able to somewhat mitigate your risk in this way.
However, there are very few cases of actual radon risk that can be fully mitigated in this manner. Simply put, if you’re dealing with high levels of radon in your home, the best way to mitigate this is going to be through the placement of a radon mitigation system.
Limitations of Opening Windows
Again, it’s not that opening windows is bad for your radon levels — it’s just that it’s a very limited solution, for several reasons.
For one thing, as we noted, radon is a gas — and as such, it will rise. So if you open a window at floor level in the hopes of letting this gas out, what you’ll actually end up doing is circulating it through the rest of your home. In other words, you might be able to let some radon out this way — but you’ll also be increasing your risk in other areas of the house.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that windows are designed to keep air in, not let it out. So while you might be able to open a window and let some radon escape this way, you’ll also be letting other gases and particles into your home in the process. This might not seem like a big deal, but it can actually compound your radon risk — and in some cases, increase your risks of other illnesses, as well.
Finally, it’s worth noting that opening windows for ventilation can actually be counterproductive in some cases. If you live in an area with high humidity, for example, opening your windows is only going to increase the moisture content of your indoor air — and as we’ll discuss in a moment, this can actually lead to increased radon risks.
So if you’re looking to mitigate your home’s radon risk, it’s important to remember that opening windows is only a limited solution — and in some cases, it can actually make your risks worse.
Proper Radon Mitigation
Even if you’ve determined that opening windows is helping to mitigate your home’s radon risk, it’s important to remember that this is only a temporary solution. The best way to reduce your risks in the long term is to install a radon mitigation system — and for this need, it’s always best to consult with a professional.
Radon mitigation systems work by drawing air from your home and venting it to the outside, where the radon gas can dissipate harmlessly. These systems are highly effective, and in most cases, they’re also relatively affordable — so if you’re concerned about radon in your home, they’re definitely worth considering. If you’re not sure where to start, the EPA’s website is a great resource for finding qualified radon mitigation professionals in your area.
For more on the theme of opening windows to help with radon levels, or to learn about any of our radon testing or mitigation services in Longmont or other parts of Colorado, speak to our team at Absolute Radon Safety today.