What is Radon and Why Should I test For It?
At one time Radon seemed like some mythical creature that people talked about but it was never really believed in. The fact that Radon is inert, colorless and odorless didn't help matters. How can something be if you can't see or smell it to confirm it’s existence. Thanks to modern technology, it’s easier than ever to detect Radon levels. They do make home kits to test for Radon but having a trained professional to perform that service is an easier, quicker and more accurate way to do it.
Let’s start with, What is Radon? - Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. Radon gas is inert, colorless and odorless. Radon is naturally in the atmosphere in trace amounts. Outdoors, radon disperses rapidly and, generally, is not a health issue. Most radon exposure occurs inside homes, schools and workplaces. Radon gas becomes trapped indoors after it enters buildings through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Indoor radon can be controlled and managed with proven, cost-effective techniques.
Secondly, What does Radon do? - Breathing radon over time increases your risk of lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Nationally, the EPA estimates that about 21,000 people die each year from radon-related lung cancer. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths.
How does radon occur? - Radon comes from the breakdown of naturally-occurring radioactive elements (such as uranium and thorium) in soils and rocks. As part of the radioactive decay process, radon gas is produced. The gas moves up through the soil to the surface, where it can enter homes, schools and the workplace through cracks and other holes in the foundation. In some cases, radon can enter buildings through well water and come from building materials. Any home can have a radon problem – old or new homes, well-sealed or drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.
Also, radon can occur in areas that didn't have radon before. The EPA recommends retesting every 2 years if you live in an area that could have Radon. Different underground makeup can affect if you have Radon or not. Oxford Mi, has lots of gravel and sand which is very conducive to Radon. Traverse City, Mi is the exact opposite and has low to 0 levels of Radon. Here is a map to see the levels of Radon here in Michigan.
With more and more people testing for Radon, if your new or current home shows high radon levels, the mitigation systems have become much more affordable. It is recommended to have the home tested prior to moving in to help prepare you for what steps, if any need to be taken.