Clearing the Air: Debunking Common Misconceptions About Radon
Home Business Magazine Online
By Insoo Park, CEO — Ecosense
Most of us are already familiar with what radon is, especially those who have bought or sold a home anytime in the last decade. Radon is an odorless and tasteless radioactive gas that, if left unmitigated, can cause health problems, including damage to the respiratory system and even lung cancer.
However, there are many common inaccuracies and misunderstandings about radon that make it even more dangerous. These misconceptions are so prevalent that they often lead people to test for radon improperly or inadequately protect themselves, their loved ones, and their homes.
Here are some of the most common myths about radon, and the truths behind them.
“Radon isn’t a problem in my part of the country”
Radon can be found in any part of the country or anywhere in the world. While some states in the United States, such as Pennsylvania and Illinois, are prone to higher average indoor radon levels than others, you can find homes with elevated radon levels in every state. Even those residing in states with a lower incidence of high indoor levels, such as Hawaii, need to regularly test for radon and mitigate its presence.
“I don’t have a basement, so my house is radon-free”
It is a common misconception that radon is only found in the basements of homes. Homes with crawl space or slab-on-grade foundations are just as susceptible. While it is more likely to be detected in higher concentrations on ground floors and in basements, elevated levels of radon can be found on upper floors as well. High radon is frequently found within both old and new residences, drafty or well-insulated places, and single-family or multi-family homes.
Surprisingly, even newly developed homes with advanced insulation systems designed to improve indoor air quality can pose a higher risk for radon exposure. This is because radon can become trapped indoors, with no outlet for it to escape, and can accumulate to dangerous levels. Therefore, it’s crucial to test for radon in any home, regardless of its age or construction.
“I don’t smoke so I won’t get lung cancer”
When we find out someone we know has lung cancer, our first thought may be whether or not it was caused by a smoking habit. However, lung cancer isn’t just a smoker’s disease. Instances of lung cancer in non-smokers may not be as common as in smokers, but between 10% and 20% of people who develop lung cancer have never smoked. As a matter of fact, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
“We have a radon mitigation system installed, so we’re safe from radon”
While an active soil depressurization system is the most effective radon mitigation technique, homeowners need to keep an eye on their system to make sure it is functioning properly. For example, If the system was not well installed to begin with, it can be overwhelmed by extended use of the HVAC system in winter. In other words, mitigation systems are not a “set it and forget it” solution — periodic maintenance and review while continuously monitoring radon are necessary to ensure they are functioning as intended.
“It won’t happen to me”
Unlike smoking, which is an elective way of introducing your lungs to carcinogens, radon’s presence is a natural occurrence. Radon is responsible for upwards of 21,000 deaths from lung cancer per year in the U.S. Believing it won’t happen to you may leave you or others in your home needlessly vulnerable to its adverse effects on human health.
“The link between radon and lung cancer risk is unclear”
The link between radon and lung cancer has been firmly established over the past several decades from clinical studies, and has been supported by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Cancer Institute, the EPA, and the American Cancer Society. The elevated lung cancer risk was first noticed in uranium miners, who worked in confined spaces underground for long periods, which led scientists to consider that radon exposure could be a wider problem.
Into the 1980s and 1990s, there was still skepticism about whether the findings in miners could be applied to the risk in homes. Rigorous studies performed since the early 2000s have laid any doubt to rest.
The truth about radon
Radon cannot be detected by human senses, so it is imperative that people use a specialized radon detection system to identify potentially hazardous levels of the gas. Some sophisticated digital radon detection systems work in real-time to give minute-by-minute readings of radon levels.
It’s not unusual to see broad fluctuations in indoor radon concentrations, particularly within unmitigated buildings. Swings in hourly average levels frequently follow a daily pattern, though changes in radon concentrations can also result from shifts in weather, such as heavy rainfall that moves the soil around a home’s foundation. Therefore, continuous monitoring of radon with a specialized device that can track fluctuating levels is essential. Unlike devices that provide only average levels, these sophisticated radon detection and monitoring devices can provide accurate and up-to-date radon readings to better assess potential hazards, enabling homeowners to take prompt action to mitigate the risk.
Statistics reveal that approximately 6.7% of homes in the United States have radon levels that exceed the EPA’s recommended action level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) and require mitigation measures. By learning the truth behind the myths surrounding radon and acting on detection and mitigation, people can make their homes and their families safer and less likely to suffer the ill effects of prolonged radon exposure.
The post Clearing the Air: Debunking Common Misconceptions About Radon appeared first on Home Business Magazine.
Author: Insoo Park
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