Radon is one of the highly radioactive gaseous elements discovered by Ernest Rutherford, an English physicist in 1899. Also, in 1900, the discovery was credited to a German physicist known as Friedrich Ernst Dorn with more clarification that the former discovered radon’s alpha radiation while the latter discovered that radium was actually releasing a gas.
This radon gas is found to come from the natural disintegration of uranium in rocks, water, soils or ground and seep into indoor air through holes and cracks in the foundation and other openings in the home. This implies that radon gas is inevitable as one cannot do without air and water.
Typically, outdoor air extremely consists of low levels of radon compared to indoor air. Studies have shown that radon gas builds up in high concentration levels inside the building or an enclosed space when the entrapped gas is unable to disperse; thereby altering the air quality in the home. Radon gas may not be seen or tasted, but it poses a serious threat to the occupants of any home or household. However, many people are ignorant of the existence and danger of radon gas to the occupants due to its colorless and odorless nature – unlike other common home hazards such as lead-based paint, asbestos, and much more.
To establish some of the health effects of radon gas, various health practitioners have studied and confirmed that radon gas is carcinogenic, which is more dangerous to smokers as oppose to nonsmokers – they have a slightly elevated risk of developing the disease when the gas is present in high levels within the home. Hence, it is essential to prevent health issues associated with radon gas by administering radon tests inside your home as often as possible.
Simon Air Quality has put this content together to establish the facts about radon gas testing, but before that, let’s quickly dive into what is meant by the word “radon.” For more understanding on the topic, read further to find out…
What is Radon?
To a layman, radon is viewed as a cancerous radioactive gas that cannot be smelt, seen or tasted, but causes some health issues in the home. According to Surgeon General, radon is the second primary cause of health problems such as lung cancer, and much more. Cases have been studied and now we know children to be more sensitive to the gas as a result of children’s higher respiration rate and speedy cell divisions, which may be more liable to radiation damage. How do scientists see radon?
Radon is described as a colorless and odorless radioactive gas which exists naturally in the atmosphere by seeping out of the soil, water, and rocks. It is a chemically-inert gas that comes from the uranium depletion that has long existed in the ground since the formation of the earth.
Radon is the heaviest common gas with an atomic radius of 1.34 angstroms. Due to its atomic nature, radon frequently finds its way through building materials such as concrete blocks, gypsum board, wood paneling, sheathing paper, mortar, and other common materials such as plastic bags, paints, water, leather, paper, and some insulation. Hence, houses without basements are at higher risk of radon health-related issues compared to those with basements.
This doesn’t mean that the level of your neighbor’s radon test has significant effects on your home. The knowledge of your home’s radon level is vital for your overall health. However, there are no specific or average radon levels for each region, state, or city.
Radon Levels: What you Need to Know
Radon in buildings or homes is unavoidable, but its levels vary from one house to another. Only through measurement can one determine its level in one’s home, and this is vital to the health of every household breathing the air in the home. There is no standard radon levels for all homes as what is acceptable to one region or country may vary to other regions.
Testing is the key to a safe environment for you and your family. One thing is for sure, and that is “radon is carcinogenic.” This is enough of a reason to test your home for possible exposure to radon to be sure if you and your household are on a safer side. Yeah! Radon levels can be measured, and there is a standard unit for it. This will be discussed next in this article.
Measurement Units of Radon Level
The levels of radon gas are measured in units named after Pierre and Marie Curie, the French scientists who first discovered radium element in 1898. Due to the unstable nature of the radioactive element, radon is always in random motion and its nucleus constantly releases radiation into the air. To explain the radon levels measurement, 1 curie is equivalent to 1 gram of radium, and this disintegrates at 2.2 trillion per minute.
One of the standard measurements for the decay of radon speed is picocuries per liter of air (or pCi/L), and this is equivalent to 1 trillionth curie or pCi. However, the metric system is being used in Canada, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) – who measures in Becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3) . The US measures in picocuries per liter. This means that 1 Bq is equal to 1 radioactive decay per second and 1 pCi/L is equivalent to 37 Bq/m3.
What are Safe Radon Levels?
The key point to the safe radon levels assumption is that, the higher the level, the higher the risk, and vice versa. The best and perfect radon level measurement is zero. However, that is impossible everywhere in the world as radon gas is imminent. As long as there is the presence of air in the home, radon will also be present.
On average, the global level of radon outside ranges from 5 Bq/m3 to 15 Bq/m3, which is equivalent to 0.135 – 0.405 pCi/L. Any increase in radon exposure of 99.9Bq/m3 or 2.7 pCi/L, there is an increased risk of lung cancer by 16%; the higher the level, the higher the risk of the related health problems. According to the World Health Organization, most of the lung cancer cases occuring globally are a result of a low to moderate concentration of radon in the homes.
What are Acceptable Radon Levels?
Acceptable radon levels differ based on each country and region. Currently, the World Health Organization establishes the acceptable radon levels to be 100 Bq/m3 or 2.7 pCi/L. Any structure, building or home measuring higher than this is urged to take proper measure to tackle its radon levels to a lower level.
The allowable limit level is further advised by WHO not to exceed 300 Bq/m3 or 8 pCi/L. While the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (C-NRPP) recommends that no level of radon is safe and further advised households that have/had lung cancer, and as well as smokers, to take remedial actions even at 200Bq/m3.
Radon Gas Testing: Should you Test your Home for Radon?
The best way to go about ensuring your home is safe from radon gas is by testing your home for high levels of radon. There are no identifiable instantaneous symptoms that may alert homeowners of the radon presence in the home. Radon can live in the house for years before you start feeling its consequences, but by that time, it may have penetrated deep into the body to cause health issues.
You can buy a test kit and perform the test yourself or you can always hire a radon professional to carry out the analysis for you. Many people think that buying a radon testing device is the best option, but there are some issues about testing radon level of your home yourself. Professionals are in the best position to perform the test to give you the most accurate measurement of your home. Reach out to the expert now!
What is Recommended Duration for Radon Gas Testing in your Home?
There are both short-term and long-term radon tests. Based on the amount of radon gas in your home, long-term radon tests can take not less than 90 days, while short-term radon tests can be completed in 48 – 96 hours. Do you really need a radon gas testing professional? Click here.
Common Methods of Radon Mitigation
Any radon mitigation system aims to lower the level of radon in the home. You cannot have no radon in your home, but you can have a mitigation system in your home to reduce the amount of radon in your home since radon is unavoidable. Many people claim that having air conditioners may assist in lowering radon, but they forget that cooled air is not fresh air. Let’s quickly look at common radon mitigation methods:
- Sub-slab suction: This technique is a way of drawing radon beneath the house or building structure and vents the gas away from home through vent pipes. The suction method is limited to houses with concrete basements or slab basements positioned on a gradient.
- Sealing cracks and openings: Sealing cracks and opening may not completely lower radon levels in your home, but it can help in limiting the radon flow into your house and as well as minimize the conditioned air loss; hence, it enhances the effectiveness of other radon mitigation system in the home.
- House pressure system: This is also known as house pressurization. It makes use of a fan to create positive air pressure differential in the home to prevent radon from entering your home. It also entails constant closing of doors leading to the basement in the house.
- Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV): This is a new emerging technology of radon mitigation which is installed by attaching it to your HVAC system to improve ventilation and air quality in your home. It exchanges your polluted, stale, and contaminated indoor air with fresh outdoor air. It is one of the most convenient and result-oriented methods of radon mitigation. You can get an HRV and other indoor air quality products here!
Radon gas is unavoidable in the home, and no amount of radiation exposure is safe. The best ways to deal with radon in this situation is by frequently testing and analyze your home for radon gas existing in your home. This can be efficiently carried out by a professional. If you prefer to do it yourself, you can acquire a DIY measurement kit at a great price.
One of the certified and trusted radon experts in Canada today is Simon Air Quality. They are equipped with experienced and trained technicians to perform your home radon testing at an affordable fee. For further inquiries on your home radon gas level information, you can contact us now. Stay tuned for more articles on radon gas!