Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the decay of radium in the soil. Radon is a colorless, odorless, invisible gas that can only be detected using proper testing techniques. Radon is constantly being generated by the radium in rocks, soil, water and materials derived from rocks and soils, such as certain building materials. Radium is a decay product of uranium which is naturally occurring in the soils and rocks of the earth's crust. The concentration of radon gas in the soil will be related to the amount of uranium present. However, this is not a good indicator of the level of radon in an individual home. The radon concentration in a home is dependent on the type of soil the home is built on. Cracks, openings and various penetrations in the building foundation will provide the pathway for the radon in the soil to enter the home. The ventilation rate and air flow patterns within a house are important factors that will affect how much radon will be pulled into different areas within the house.
The EPA has identified radon as the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, directly behind inhaling cigarette smoke. Many homes contain radon concentrations that are high enough to give their occupants lifetime exposures that could increase their risk of developing lung cancer. As one inhales, radon decay products in the inhaled air are deposited in the lungs.
Good news, there is a way! This can be done by several methods, but the method most widely known is the active sub-slab depressurization system. This technique will reroute the radon gas from the soil away from the house, by venting the radon gas from beneath the basement to a point above the roof. This technique is very effective and will typically cost around $900 to install.
The EPA recommends retesting each home, even if an active system is in place, every two years.