Do you have cracks in your home’s foundation walls or floor? Cracks in your foundation can allow water to seep in, causing damage to the interior of your home. These cracks can also let in something you can’t even see-. You may have a guest in your house and not even know it. The name of this guest is Radon; a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer for the general population. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States has elevated radon levels. Radon is present outdoors and indoors. It forms naturally from the breaking down of radioactive elements, such as uranium, which are found in different amounts in soil and rock throughout the world. Radon gas in the soil and rock can move into the air and into underground and surface water.
Why should you be concerned? Radon gas given off by soil or rock can enter through cracks in foundation floors or walls, or gaps in foundations around pipes, wires, or pumps. Air pressure inside your home is usually lower than pressure in the soil around your foundation. Because of this difference in pressure, your home acts like a vacuum, drawing radon in through foundation cracks and other openings. Radon breaks down into solid radioactive elements called radon progeny. Radon progeny can attach to dust and other particles and can then be breathed into the lungs. For most people, exposure to radon comes from being indoors. Radon levels can be checked by a professional or with a do-it-yourself radon detection kit, which can be ordered through the mail or bought in hardware or home supply stores. The kits are placed in the home for a period of time and then mailed to a lab for analysis.
How can I protect myself from having elevated levels in my home? There are several methods you can use. Some techniques prevent radon from entering your home while others reduce radon levels after it has entered. The EPA generally recommends methods that prevent the entry of radon. Your home type will affect the kind of radon reduction system that will work best. Once you have determined your foundation design you can begin with some simple and inexpensive prevention techniques. For example, you can seal cracks and other openings in your foundation. Sealing the cracks limits the flow of radon into your home, thereby making other radon reduction techniques more effective and cost-efficient. Another option is having a heat recovery ventilator installed to increase ventilation, which will help reduce the radon levels in your home.
Lindsey Blancarte | Sr. Field Claims Adjuster