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Radon Testing

What is Radon

Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from uranium and radium in soil, which can be found everywhere in the world. Uranium is present in rocks, such as granite, shale, phosphate, and pitchblende. Uranium breaks down into radium, which then decays into radon. This gas can easily move up through the soil into the atmosphere. Natural deposits of uranium and radium–not manufactured sources–produce most of the radon present in the air. 

Radon in the soil can be drawn into a building and can accumulate to high levels. Every building and home has the potential for elevated levels of radon. All homes should be tested for radon, even those built with radon-resistant features. The EPA recommends taking action to reduce indoor radon levels when levels are 4 pCi/L or higher. 

Is Radon an Issue in my area

Radon is in the soil and air everywhere in varying amounts. Here is the EPA Zone Map for Tennessee. 

People cannot see, taste, feel or smell radon. There is no way to sense the presence of radon. Radon levels are commonly expressed in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), where a picocurie is a measure of radioactivity. The national average of indoor radon levels in homes is about 1.3 pCi/L. Radon levels outdoors, where radon is diluted, average about 0.4 pCi/L. 

Should I have my home tested for Radon

The EPA, the State of Tennessee and the Surgeon General recommend testing for radon in all homes below the third floor

At What Levels is Radon Safe

There is not a known level of Radon where Radon is safe. 

The EPA set the actionable level for indoor Radon at 4 pCi/L.  The EPA recommends that if radon is found at or above 4 pCi/L, those levels should be mitigated. There is still some risk at levels below 4 pCi/L, and the EPA suggests that people may want to mitigate their homes to get them as close to the ambient outdoor level as possible. Outdoor air has an average of approximately 0.4 pCi/L.

How Does Radon Get into the Body

People may ingest trace amounts of radon with food and water. However, inhalation is the main route of entry into the body for radon and its decay products. Radon decay products may attach to particulates and aerosols in the air we breathe (for example, cooking-oil vapors). When they are inhaled, some of these particles are retained in the lungs.

How Can Radon Affect Your Health

When radon is inhaled, the alpha particles from its radioactive decay directly strike sensitive lung tissue, causing damage that can lead to lung cancer. However, since radon is a gas, most of it is exhaled. The radiation dose comes largely from radon decay products. These enter the lungs on dust particles that lodge in the airways of the lungs. These radionuclides decay quickly, exposing lung tissue to damage and producing other radionuclides that continue damaging the lung tissue.

There is no safe level of radon; any exposure poses some risk of cancer. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) studied and described the causes of lung cancer in two 1999 reports. They concluded that radon in indoor air is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after cigarette smoking.

RADON RISKS for PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER SMOKED

Radon Level

20 pCi/L
10 pCi/L
8 pCi/L
4 pCi/L
2 pCi/L
1.3 pCi/L
0.4 pCi/L

If 1,000 people who have never smoked were exposed to this level over a lifetime

about 36 of them would get lung cancer
about 18 of them would get lung cancer
about 15 of them would get lung cancer
about 7 of them would get lung cancer
about 4 of them would get lung cancer
about 2 of them would get lung cancer
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The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to

35 times the risk of drowning
20 times the risk of dying in a fall
4 times the risk of dying in a fall
the same risk as dying in a car crash
the same risk as dying from poison
(average indoor radon level)
(average indoor radon level)

What To Do

Mitigate the exposure level
Mitigate the exposure level
Mitigate the exposure level
Mitigate the exposure level
Consider mitigation if level is between 2 and 4 pCi/L
Understand that reducing Rn levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult
Understand that reducing Rn levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult

RADON RISKS for SMOKERS

Radon Level

20 pCi/L
10 pCi/L
8 pCi/L
4 pCi/L
2 pCi/L
1.3 pCi/L
0.4 pCi/L

If 1,000 people who smoke were exposed to this level over a lifetime...

about 260 of them would get lung cancer
about 150 of them would get lung cancer
about 120 of them would get lung cancer
about 62 of them would get lung cancer.
about 32 of them would get lung cancer
about 20 of them would get lung cancer
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The risk of cancer from radon exposure compares to

250 times the risk of drowning
200 times the risk of dying in a fall
30 times the risk of dying in a fall
5 times the risk as dying in a car crash
6 times the risk as dying from poison
(average indoor radon level)
(average indoor radon level)

What To Do : STOP smoking and

Mitigate the exposure level
Mitigate the exposure level
Mitigate the exposure level
Mitigate the exposure level
Consider mitigation if level is between 2 and 4 pCi/L
Understand that reducing Rn levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult
Understand that reducing Rn levels below 2 pCi/L is difficult

How to Protect Yourself and Family

The first step is to test your home for Radon and have it corrected if levels are at or above EPA’s action level of 4 pCi/L. You may also want to take action if the levels are in the range of 2-4 pCi/L. Generally, levels can be brought below 2 pCi/L fairly simply

The best method for reducing radon in your home will depend on how radon enters your home and the design of your home. For example, sealing cracks in floors and walls may help to reduce radon but is not sufficient. There are also systems that remove radon from crawlspaces or from beneath the concrete floor or basement slab, that are effective at keeping radon from entering your home. These systems are simple and don’t require major changes to your home. Other methods may be necessary.

People who have private wells should test their well water to ensure that its radon levels meet the EPA’s proposed standard.

If you are already scheduling the Bent Nail team for a Home Inspection, let us know and we can add Radon testing to your services. Please don’t think that you have to have a Home Inspection to have your home tested for Radon.  A home inspection is not required to test for radon. Contact us today and we can start the process of measuring the Radon levels in your home. 

Please visit the websites below for more information about Radon and its effects.

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Tennessee Radon Progam