Archive for June, 2012
Radon is a radioactive, tasteless, odorless and colorless noble gas. Although it is very dense, it still remains a gas under most circumstances. Radon gas can be a serious health hazard due to its radioactivity. It is created naturally in the ground, but can then become trapped inside a building, where it becomes dangerous.
If radon-contaminated dust is inhaled, it can stick to the airways and eventually lead to lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, with only cigarette smoking causing more cases. Of the annual estimated 21,000 deaths caused by lung cancer, about 2,900 of those people never smoked — radon being the primary cause of those cases.
The Primary Sources of High Radon Levels
The problem of radon contamination occurring in homes was first discovered unintentionally in 1985 as a result of radiation testing being done at a nuclear power plant. Stanley Watras, an engineer, set off the radiation detector at his plant. The cause turned out to be radon gas in his home. Radon can enter buildings, including homes, in a variety of ways, such as through the water supply, cracks in the floors and walls and spaces in the construction joints.
Some of the highest radon concentrations found in the United States are located in and near the Appalachian Mountain region, although the gas can be a problem anywhere. For example, record-breaking radon levels have been recorded in the Irish town of Mallow, County Cork, leading to elevated local fears regarding lung cancer. Iowa, too, is prone to excessively high radon concentrations, believed to be a result of significant glaciation that ground the massive rocks from the Canadian Shield and deposited them in the soil that makes up Iowa’s farmland. Similarly, Fredericksburg has been found to be vulnerable to high radon levels, leading to strict requirements for radon-resistant construction in new homes.
Detecting and Correcting High Radon Levels
Simple, inexpensive home radon testing kits are now widely available. The test is made up of a collector that is to be placed on the floor of the lowest livable level of the house. This collector is to remain in place for two to seven days. Once the collection process is complete the sample is sent to a laboratory for testing. Long term kits, which collect data for a whole year, are also available. Additionally, SWAT Environmental can provide faster and more accurate professional residential radon testing. If necessary, SWAT’s experts can also reduce high radon levels to prevent them from doing any harm. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the best and most cost efficient way to reduce and prevent radon concentrations is through the use of a fan and vent pipe system that pulls radon from under the house and then vents it to the outside without allowing it to escape into the house. If necessary, SWAT’s technicians can use other systems and techniques as well to ensure that your family is protected.
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