Even though radon has been found in homes all over the United States, our area here in Eastern Washington has documented some of the highest levels of this invisible threat. Our
tri-county area is considered Zone 1 which is known as the “red” zone. Radon is second only to smoking as the leading cause of lung cancer related deaths.
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to
the inside of your home from your crawl space or basement or concrete slab, as well as through your drinking water.
Your home can become a trap for this radioactive gas where it can accumulate in such concentrations as to become hazardous to your health. Any home can have a radon problem! This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. In fact, you are most likely to get your greatest radiation exposure at home
since that is where you spend most of your time! Levels of radon are usually highest during the winter months when your home is closed up with less opportunity to vent.
Radon is measured in units called picocuries (pCi), and according to the EPA, if levels of radon in your home exceed 4 pCi it is considered a serious health risk. Nearly one out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to exceed the acceptable level. Just because your home has met the building code for a passive radon mitigation system, doesn’t mean that it is working properly or working at all!
There are several ways to test for radon in your home. The least expensive way is to purchase a simple test kit from your local hardware store, which is sent to a lab which sends results back within a week or two. You can also hire local companies that use sophisticated electronic equipment to test for radon that generate an hourly printout. If your home is high in levels of radon gas there are several ways to install vent systems that can effectively eliminate the gases from your living spaces by capturing the gases before they enter your home and venting it to the outside where it can dissipate as it would have naturally if your home was not there. Studies show that if 1,000 people who never smoked were exposed to levels of radon at 20 pCi over a lifetime, about 36 of those could get lung cancer, which is 35 times the risk of drowning!