According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you can discuss ways with your builder to make your home safer. These include:
- Installing a layer of clean gravel or aggregate beneath the slab or flooring system.
- Laying polyethylene sheeting on top of the gravel layer.
- Including a gas-tight venting pipe from the gravel level through the building to the roof.
- Sealing and caulking the foundation thoroughly.
But even if you are living in an older home, there are still steps you can take to protect your family from radon. The first one is to have your home tested. The EPA encourages all homeowners to test their houses for radon.
Environmental Health staff at the Monongalia County Health Department are nationally board-certified to conduct radon testing. A staffer will come to your home and leave a continuous monitoring device for 48 hours, and then return to collect it and read the results.
If the test shows radon levels to be 4.0 pCi/L, or picocuries per liter, or higher, mitigation can be done that will make your home safer. The average cost of mitigation is $1,500.
While every home should be tested for radon at least every two years—and more often after a renovation, mitigation or certain other occurrences—residents of Morgantown and surrounding areas should really heed this advice. The one in five homes on average found to have radon is three times the national average of one in 15 homes listed by the EPA.
Why is radon bad? It is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking cigarettes. About 21,000 deaths occur each year from radon-induced lung cancer. And smokers who have a high radon content in their homes are even in more danger.
Radon can be a problem year-round, but once the cold rolls around at winter-time, houses tend to be more closed-up with less ventilation, which can make a high radon situation even worse. Not coincidentally, January is National Radon Action Month, which is a great time to highlight the dangers of radon as well as the simple measures to detect and protect homes against this gas.
The EPA released the National Radon Action Plan in November 2015. The plan represents a collaborative effort among 11 organizations dedicated to eliminating avoidable radon-induced lung cancer in the United States. Led by the American Lung Association, the plan requires cooperation to incorporate radon testing and mitigation in the purchasing, financing, constructing and renovating of homes and other buildings.
The goal is to save 3,200 lives by 2020 by testing and reducing the radon content of homes throughout these processes.
Do your part to help achieve that goal and keep your family safe at the same time. You can set up a test by calling MCHD Environmental Health at 304-598-5131 or you can request a test online.
And if you want to read more about radon, the EPA’s website is a wellspring of information, providing sites on radon in general as well as the National Radon Action Plan.
Do the research. Make the call. And rest easy in 2018 in what should be the cozy fortress that is your home.