Radon & Your Home

Radon gas is a natural yet radioactive byproduct of uranium and radium breaking down in the soil.

It’s released into the atmosphere and attaches to particles in the air. It then gets inhaled and over time builds up in lungs.

Radon enters our homes from all types of foundations. Basements, slabs and crawlspaces are all at risk for potential elevated radon levels.

Radon enters your home through basement or foundation access points or cracks and it is entirely odorless, tasteless and colorless. Human sensory perception simply does not allow the detection of radioactive radon gas.

Couple that with the fact that few of us open our windows anymore, and homes are built air-tight for energy efficiency so once radon enters our homes, it stays.

 

Radon & Your Health

Radon is a radioactive, naturally-occurring gas in the environment.  Upon entering homes, it attaches to dust and other particles in the air which when inhaled over a sustained period of time can become a threat to your health. The radioactive particles can attach to healthy lung tissue causing abnormal tissue growth and ultimately lung cancer.

 

Read More From the EPA

Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, Releases National Health Advisory on Radon

(January 13, 2005) U.S. Surgeon General, Richard H. Carmona, issues a Health Advisory warning Americans about the health risk from exposure to radon in indoor air. The Chief Physician urged Americans to test their homes to find out how much radon they might be breathing.

Dr. Carmona also stressed the need to remedy the problem as soon as possible when the radon level is 4 pCi/L or more, noting that more than 20,000 Americans die of radon-related lung cancer each year.

Studies Find Direct Evidence Linking Radon in Homes to Lung Cancer

(2005) Two studies show definitive evidence of an association between residential radon exposure and lung cancer. Two studies, a North American study and a European study, both combined data from several previous residential studies. These two studies go a step beyond earlier findings. They confirm the radon health risks predicted by occupational studies of underground miners who breathed radon for a period of years.

Early in the debate about radon-related risks, some researchers questioned whether occupational studies could be used to calculate risks from exposure to radon in the home environment. “These findings effectively end any doubts about the risks to Americans of having radon in their homes,” said Tom Kelly, Former Director of EPA’s Indoor Environments Division. “We know that radon is a carcinogen. This research confirms that breathing low levels of radon can lead to lung cancer.”

World Health Organization's International Radon Project

(2009) The World Health Organization (WHO) says radon causes up to 15% of lung cancers worldwide. In an effort to reduce the rate of lung cancer around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched an international radon project to help countries increase awareness, collect data and encourage action to reduce radon-related risks.

A Citizen’s Guide to Radon: The Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Radon

(2016) You can’t see radon. And you can’t smell it or taste it. But it may be a problem in your home. Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths each year. That’s because when you breathe air containing radon, you can get lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

Radon can be found all over the U.S. Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon can be found all over the U.S. It can get into any type of building—homes, offices, and schools—and result in a high indoor radon level. But you and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home, where you spend most of your time.

A Serious Threat To You and Your Family

A man whose elderly parent passed away unexpectedly after living in the same house for 30+ years.

A wife who’s seemingly healthy husband was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer and died 6 weeks later.

A family dog who had been kenneled at night in the basement for 7 years developed lung cancer.

These are the some of the heartbreaking examples we have heard from Indianapolis area clients who unfortunately got their homes tested for radon too late. Unknowingly, their homes had been infiltrated by radioactive radon for years and they lost a loved one because of it. 

Indiana is a High Risk Zone

 

Central Indiana is one of the worst regions in the country for radon exposure due to our soil composition.

The counties in RED on the map are at an elevated risk

(click map for full image)

In other states, every time a home is bought or sold, it is required by law to test for radon. Indiana has no such laws and consequently, many aren’t aware of the high risks or the need for radon testing.

 

Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer behind cigarette smoking

Even the accepted radon level of 4.0pCi/l = smoking 8 cigarettes a day

21,000 deaths each year are caused by radon induced lung cancer 

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late, Get Your Home Tested TODAY

 

The only way to detect harmful, radioactive radon gas is to test.

The EPA recommends:

Test your home every 2 years as radon levels can fluctuate based on constantly changing environmental factors and subsoil decomposition rates.

You should also test your home every 2 years even if you have a radon mitigation system installed on your home to ensure the system is still operating effectively.

Testing is inexpensive and easy.

 

Pure Air Environmental provides education and protection for Indiana residents because every breath matters. 

FAQs

What is radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas without color, odor or taste. Radon is one stage in the decay process of uranium. When one element “decays” and becomes a different element altogether, it gives off radiation in the form of alpha and beta particles and gamma rays. Radon exists as a gas for slightly less than 4 days. It then decays and smaller energy particles are formed which also decay very rapidly. The alpha particles in the air are the real concern as they are heavy enough to penetrate a layer of skin. Long term exposure to high levels of radon gas can cause damage to sensitive lung tissue that can then lead to lung cancer.
How does radon cause cancer?
These radon decay products, called “daughters,” attach themselves to dust particles floating in the air. When inhaled they can become lodged in the lung tissue. As these radon daughters decay, emitting the tiny bursts of energy, they can damage that lung cell tissue. Prolonged exposure can cause lung cancer. Scientific research indicates that at least a 10 to 20 year incubation period is required before a lung cancer develops. Scientists estimate that indoor radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the number two cause of lung cancer (after smoking) in the United States. Up to 21,000 Americans may die each year as a result of radon exposure. The EPA considers radon to be the most significant environmental health risk we face today.
Where does radon originate?
Radon comes primarily from the soil under a building. Radon can be found almost everywhere because radium (the “parent” of radon gas) is present in most soils. Average concentrations of radon are usually low, and small amounts of radon are measurable in the air. However, when homes, schools and buildings are erected over a source of radon, the gas can become trapped and elevated inside the building. The highest levels are usually detected in the basement, however heating and air conditioning systems and whole house vacuum systems can quickly spread radon to other parts of a building.
How does radon enter homes, schools and other buildings?
Radon usually enters buildings mixed with other gasses from the soil. Usual entry points are open sumps, cracks in floors and cinder block walls, openings in floors (from electrical, plumbing and other penetrations), floor drains, etc. Radon is literally pulled, or sucked into the building due to what is called the “stack effect.” Warm, heated air inside the building will rise and exit at higher elevations and this loss will require air to come from the soil through the cracks and openings mentioned before. Other exhausting appliances (such as fireplaces, dryers, bathroom fans, etc.) can also increase the rate of radon entry.
How is radon detected?
One of the most common radon test types is the activated carbon test. Using this technique, a small canister of activated charcoal is placed in the lowest livable area of a home or commercial building (the basement, if you have one) for several days. After exposure, the canister is sealed and sent to a laboratory for analysis. Charcoal canister tests help you determine the radon concentration present at the time of the test. Other test devices include electronic continuous radon monitors (CRM’s), which can be used to detect and document radon levels on an hourly basis. This type of test is especially valuable when you are involved in purchasing a home and want to prevent tampering with the test device. Certain monitors can also be used to locate primary radon entry points.
When are radon levels highest?
Radon levels are highest in the winter by a factor of two to three times over summertime readings.
What if my house has been vacant for some time?
Unlike natural gas, carbon monoxide or other toxic airborne gasses, radon does not continue to build in concentration. Because ½ the radon “decays” every 3.8 days, an equilibrium is reached and radon levels remain fairly constant. Testing any home requires that the building be kept closed for a period of time before and DURING the test, negating the concern that the house has been vacant and closed up for a long period.
Where can I find more information?
The Environmental Protection Agency’s website is an excellent source of information. Visit our links page for access to various resources and references.
What does the radon testing process look like?

As the EPA recommends, we place the test device(s) in the lowest level of the home that could be used regularly, whether it is finished or unfinished. We offer four distinctly different radon testing options that are all EPA-approved. Short-term and long-term tests are available. Short-term measurements lasting between two and 90 days, while longer term tests are considered more accurate as they remove seasonal or weather changes.

  • Basic testing: results are typically available within 5-7 days from the lab.
  • Electret ION chamber: Typically used as a longer-term test. The electret canisters are read in our office with our equipment therefore no lab delays are experienced.
  • Continuous Radon Monitor: The most reliable and fastest way to secure results. This is deemed an active testing option since it requires power to function. The digital box is activated at the testing site and retrieved 48 hours later. Upon retrieval, the radon test level is displayed electronically. An hour by hour reading is also available which depicts any fluctuations.
  • Alpha-track: For long-term testing periods. It also requires submission to a lab for analysis.
What are the treatment steps in removing radon from my home?
The goal of radon mitigation is to effectively move air from underneath the home’s foundation and exhaust it outside. Basements are the most prevalent, but crawl spaces and cement slabs also have high radon activity and that’s where mitigation installation takes place. We offer four systems:

  • Exterior: As the most common system, a suction point is placed into the concrete floor and fan is installed on the exterior, extended far enough to avoid radon reentering
  • Passive: This is commonly used in newer homes as an exhaust has already been installed during the construction process. However, the installation does not typically create the right air flow, and so we must extend off of it. This is a great option for those who, for cosmetic reasons, do not want a fan and exhaust pipe visible on the home exterior.
  • Interior: This option combines the exterior and passive systems for those who do not want an exterior fan but did not have the passive system installed in their home.
  • HRV: When all other options are unavailable, we recommend this system. This is typically only installed in older homes that still have root cellars or dirt floors. A fresh air intake and an exhaust port are installed, and more installations may occur in larger areas, making it the most expensive option.

 Each system includes a post-mitigation test.

Mitigations options will vary as no two homes are alike. To learn more about each system and what option would work best in your home, contact us today. We fully guarantee our systems to maintain radon levels BELOW the EPA recommended level for 5 years after installation date. At Pure Air Environmental, we work hard to ensure the satisfaction of our clients while making sure their family and homes are safe. To us, every breath matters.