Radon: An invisible threat to your health that you can mitigate in your home
By Matt Cimino
That is why it may come as a surprise to learn about a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, and the No. 2 cause altogether after smoking.
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the decay of underground uranium. It slowly moves through bedrock and into soil, eventually entering buildings. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lung cancer caused by radon exposure claims the lives of approximately 21,000 Americans every year.
January is Radon Action Month, and the first month of the year starts with this very significant health topic. Radon is especially important to spread awareness of due to its stealthy nature.
This issue hits close to home in Morgantown, as about 1 in 5 homes are determined to have high radon (levels of 4pCi/L or higher), compared to 1 in 15 nationwide. Luckily, there are steps you can take to limit your exposure.
The first and most important step is to get your house tested. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that all potential and current homeowners get their houses tested. It is a simple process that could ensure your safety.
Monongalia County Health Department’s Environmental Health has a certified radon inspector who will set up a monitor in your home in the lowest livable space, such as a basement. Then monitor is left to run for 48 hours before being retrieved. Once the monitor is picked up, the data is downloaded to form a report of the results.
If it is found that your house has potentially harmful levels of radon, there are ways you can reduce its concentration. The EPA generally suggests installing more ventilation in basements, and also adding fans. This combination limits a structure’s suction on soil beneath foundations and dilutes radon in the soil.
There are also radon mitigation systems that you can install. And if you are building a new home, you can make sure that it is designed with the correct ventilation to make it safer from radon from the beginning.
For a comprehensive breakdown on home radon reduction, click here.
It’s always best to contact professionals for high radon levels. Be sure to seal any cracks and openings in your basement. Radon can seep through small openings. And if you are in the process of installing radon venting systems, opening basement windows for circulation can make for a safer work environment.
You can visit MCHD’s page on radon for testing information or to make an appointment, which also can be done by calling 304-598-5131.
We do a lot to make sure our homes are safe. Radon testing should be right up there in importance. With some testing, and a few key steps, you can make sure your home is safe for the duration.