Radon can be a silent, deadly killer, but what is it and how can homeowners protect themselves?
Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. It is colorless and odorless.
Any home can have a radon problem: old, new, well-sealed or drafty, or with or without a basement.
According to the EPA, radon is naturally in the atmosphere in trace amounts. Outdoors, the gas disperses rapidly and, generally, is not a health issue.
Most exposure occurs inside homes, schools, and workplaces. Radon gas becomes trapped indoors after it enters buildings through cracks and other holes in the foundation.
Radon develops from the breakdown of naturally-occurring radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium in soils and rocks. The gas is produced as part of the radioactive decay process.
During the decay process, radon gives off tiny radioactive particles. Breathing in the particles can cause damage to cells that line the lungs. Long-term exposure leads to lung cancer.
After smoking, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. In Illinois alone there are around 1,160 deaths a year from lung cancer caused by radon.
The University of Illinois’ Take Action on Radon campaign notes that radon can enter a home “through cracks and gaps in the home’s walls and floors, and around service pipes that enter the home. It can enter through sump pits and plumbing penetrations in the home.”
The average radon level in homes in Illinois is 4.4 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter of air), while the national indoor average is 1.3 pCi/L.
Levels of 4.0 pCi/L or higher were found in 40% of Illinois homes, which according to the University of Illinois, that radon level is “equal to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.”
An inspection can help determine the level of radon in your home. Detailed Inspection Service offers radon inspections to Chicago-area homeowners and buyers alike.
If radon is found in your home, radon mitigation systems can be installed and help reduce the risk.
For more information about radon inspections for your New Lenox, Ill., Will County or suburban Chicago home, contact Detailed Inspection Service.