Radon 101

The Dangers of Radon in Your Tennessee Home

There’s a dangerous radioactive gas collecting in your house and you don’t even know it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 1 in 15 homes in the United States have elevated levels of this odorless, colorless gas, which could lead to long-term health consequences. Is your Tennessee home safe?

What is radon?

Radon might be a naturally occurring gas in nature, but if it collects in your home, it could be deadly. Radon is created from the breakdown of uranium and other radioactive elements in soil, groundwater, and rocks. Outside, exposure is minimal because the gas disperses in the air. But inside your home, it has nowhere to go.

The presence of radon varies widely across the United States. The EPA map below shows that Tennessee is a state that has a high amount of radon, which means your Tennessee home is more at risk.

The average level of radon in your home should be around 1.3 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) in the air in the United States. But the EPA suggests that radon levels should not exceed 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Any more than this presents a risk of exposure to damaging levels of radon.

How does radon get into my home?

Radon releases from rocks, soil, and groundwater. The chances are that radon is seeping up the ground through microscopic cracks and pores in your foundation. Less ventilated areas like crawlspaces and basements may have concentrated levels of radon. It could also be in the groundwater you are drinking. Don’t worry! Radon inspectors can test the water too.

How radon moves into your home

Image courtesy of the EPA (Citizen Guide to Radon)

A frequent question posed by homeowners is “my neighbors have a radon problem, do I?” Elevated radon levels have a lot to do with where your home is positioned. But it also has to do with its structure and ventilation. The only way to confirm a radon issue is to test for it. That’s where a radon inspector can help.

What are the health risks of radon?

Radon poisoning is the second highest cause of lung cancer in the United States and the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Estimates put radon-caused lung cancer are around 21,000 deaths per year. It is critical to remediate radon in your home to normal levels to prevent long-term cancer risks, especially for smokers. Smokers exposed to long-term high levels of radon are exponentially more at risk of developing lung cancer.

How do I know if my home has radon?

If you choose to hire an inspector to test radon, the inspector will measure radon in your home using time-integrated measuring devices. Inspectors will strategically locate testing devices depending on your home’s layout. That way, an inspector can provide a better picture of the level of radon in your home over time and in different locations.

Radon inspectors will review the results with homeowners. If the levels are over the EPA’s recommendations, the inspector will be able to guide homeowners on what to do next.

My home has high levels of radon. What now?

Radon is a potentially life-threatening gas, but homeowners with high radon levels in their homes should not be scared. Remediating high levels of radon is relatively easy and cost-effective. Solutions like an active sub-slab reduction can use a professionally installed fan system to suck radon up from the ground, through the pipes in your home, and dispel it outside your home. Contractors can usually install these systems in one business day. And the cost ranges from $600 to $1800, depending on your area and access to radon remediating contractor availability

Is your home safe? Find out with a Cookeville Home Inspection radon test from a certified radon test inspector.

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