The Effects of Radon Exposure in Your Home

Thursday, April 21st, 2011 by Donna Kshir

Many homeowners are unaware of the serious effects radon can have on you, your family and your home. Radon is a silent, invisible, odorless, hazardous and natural occurring gas. It is a result of the decay of small amounts of uranium found within the earth's crust. 
Radon is a radioactive gas that silently enters your home through utility line openings, drains, sump openings, and small cracks in the walls and floor of the foundation. Radon has the tendency to spread quickly, going from the basement of your home to the main living space, odorless-ly, putting you and your family in danger of radon poisoning. 
Radon is a dangerous gas because it easily and quickly breaks down and scatters throughout the air in your home. Due to the fact that radon breaks down and spreads so quickly, large amounts of radon can accumulate inside your home without your knowledge. As the gas spreads throughout your home, you and your family are placed in a dangerous position. 
Where is radon found?
The largest source of radon is located in the soil around and under your home, but radon is also in the air you breathe, in water supply you drink and in building materials. As long as radon is present, you and your family are at risk. 
Can radon be measured?
There are devices and special detection equipment available in most hardware stores and home building centers around the country to detect and measure the silent, invisible and odorless gas. Today, radon detectors are commonly used in homes throughout the United States and Canada. 
Radon detectors are usually placed in the home for several days at a time. After a desired amount of time, the device is removed from your home and sent off to the lab where tests will be performed to determine if you have radon in your home, as well as the amount of radon. After several tests are performed, you will receive a report from the lab. This is sometimes called a short term test.
There are also radon detectors on the market that can be installed and monitored by a professional. This allows the levels of radon to be continuously measured, protecting you from exposure. This is sometimes known as a long term test.
Can radon levels elevate in my home?
Radon comes through the soil, so any home or building that has a dirt crawl space is at risk of being exposed to the maximum levels of radon. However, homes and buildings with concrete foundations can also host maximum levels of radon.
Can radon cause health risks?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over 20,000 men and women across the United States die from radon related lung cancer each year. Smokers who have been exposed to radon have a greater chance of developing lung cancer than non-smokers. 
However, non-smokers and children have a higher chance of developing lung cancer when being exposed to radon rather than those who have not been exposed to radon. 
Further studies have shown that children are more at risk of contracting the effects of being exposed to radon than adults.
Recognizing radon poisoning:
Radon originates through a decaying process that slowly and silently releases tiny radioactive particles. Radon poisoning occurs when your lungs have been exposed to and inhale high levels of the radioactive gas. This can cause mild to severe damage to the lungs, resulting in lung cancer.
Why does radon poisoning occur?
Radon poisoning occurs due to poor ventilation in crawl spaces, basements or mines. 
Symptoms of radon poisoning:
The EPA has spent a lot of time and money researching the effects and symptoms of radon. Indications of radon poisoning are the same as lung cancer and include: a persistent cough, respiratory infections, hoarseness, and respiratory and breathing difficulties. It’s best to seek medical attention to be sure you or your family hasn’t been exposed or aren’t experiencing symptoms of radon poisoning.
How do I protect myself? 
According to the United States Surgeon General office, it is highly recommended that homeowners periodically have their homes tested for radon.
If you believe you and your family have been exposed to radon, it is best to contact a professional who can evaluate and properly test your home’s radon levels. This will provide the information and further action to be taken to ensure that you and your family are safe from this radioactive gas. 
Contact the experts at Interior Basement Systems for more information about radon and for radon mitigation in British Columbia including Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon, Quesnel, Penticton, Williams Lake, Nelson, Salmon Arm, Castlegar, West Kelowna and all surrounding areas. 

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