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Is Your Home Radioactive? Radon Risks And You

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Most people are aware of the importance of having a carbon monoxide detector in their home, but unfortunately, few are aware of the dangers of radon. A naturally occurring gas, radon occurs because of the breakdown of uranium in the soil. Uranium is abundant throughout the earth's crust, and it is found in every state. It may be in the air, or it may be in the water. As radon has no taste, odor, or color, the only way to know for sure if your air or water is contaminated is through testing. Here is what you should know:

What Danger Does Radon Pose?

Radon is radioactive. If a home or business tests positive for radon in the air or water, it can lead to lung and stomach cancer. Breathing in radon is worse than consuming it, but neither are good for a person. In fact, in nonsmokers, radon is believed to be the likely cause of lung cancer. In cigarette smokers, the lung cancer risk is much higher in those who also have radon in their air and water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Surgeon General estimate over 20,000 people die from radon-caused lung cancer annually.

How Does Radon Get In Your Home?

As uranium decays, it can enter the air or the water supply. This then mixes with the air in your home, or comes in through the water. When you run the water, such as for a bath or to do the dishes, it can also enter the air that way.

How Is Radon Eradicated?

First, your home must be tested. Look for a qualified contractor to perform the test, or you can buy a do-it-yourself test. A test strip will be left in the home's lowest level for a minimum of two days. At the end of that time period, the results are ready to be analyzed. If you have tested it yourself, you will have to mail the test in to the manufacturer for analysis. If the level is found to be unhealthy, the next step will be radon mitigation.

What Is Radon Mitigation?

Radon mitigation is any number of methods used by professional contractors to reduce the level of radon in your home. Underground piping and exhaust fans that are placed below the home's foundation is a common technique. An activated carbon system may be used if radon is found in your water supply. This is common for people who have well water systems rather than municipal water. Radon mitigation can only be done by a qualified contractor.