Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that can seep up from the earth and into your home. As the weather gets colder, you may start seeing ad campaigns that warn you to get your home tested for this safety hazard. They are not there to strike unnecessary fear into homeowners, but to potentially save many people from the dangers of long-term exposure to radon gas. Here’s why it’s so important to get your home tested, and if you get a positive result, why radon removal is crucial.
The Dangers Of Radon
Radon occurs naturally in the environment, but it’s not healthy for you to breathe or be around in high levels. It’s a gas that seeps up through the soil as uranium decays and breaks down into radium, which then turns into radon gas. In low levels, it’s not harmful, but once it’s trapped inside you home – especially when you have it sealed up from the cold winter air – it’s very dangerous.
In fact, the American Lung Association says radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind tobacco. It’s very dangerous because there are no immediate symptoms to being exposed to radon. It’s only after long-term exposure when the symptoms of cancer could be evident. The fact that radon gas is invisible and odorless adds to the danger and can make it easy to ignore the issue.
However, the good news is that testing is very easy and inexpensive, according to Keith Hill, technical support manager at Minnesota Air.
“There are many DIY kits you can buy – some for a quick test and some for more long term,” he says. “The long-term test, where you leave the test device in the home for several weeks, is more accurate and the type I would recommend.”
Since radon seeps up from the soil underneath the home, you’ll always want to place the test in the lower level of your house, like a basement room where your family spends the most time. Keith reminds us that all lower level bedrooms should also be tested.
If you are a resident of Minnesota, you can order your radon test kits from the Minnesota Department of Health at a discounted rate. Click here to learn more and purchase a kit.
Unfortunately, Minnesota is a prime location for radon. If you look at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s map of Minnesota radon zones, you’ll see that our state has the geology and climate that makes us major candidates for high radon levels in our homes. All Minnesota counties are in either moderate or high potential radon zones.
If you discover that your home has high levels after testing, you will want to take action right away to remove radon from your home. It could be as easy as improving ventilation or as much as a full radon abatement system. An HVAC professional that has experience or a certified radon mitigation contractor trained to fix radon problems can help you with what to do next.
Check out the full list of radon removal options we’ve discussed in a previous article and get even more information on the EPA’s Guide to Radon Reduction. Just keep in mind that testing and treatments for radon need to be addressed, and not ignored, if you truly want a safe home.