Radon is the leading cause of deaths in private homes.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water.
Radon causes lung cancer. The EPA estimates that 21,000 Americans die each year from radon-induced lung cancer. This makes it the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer following smoking. As radon decays, it creates four new elements - collectively known as Radon Decays Products (RDPs) - two of which emit alpha radiation. As these RDPs float around in the air they attach themselves to dust, smoke or other particles which we then breath in. These particles attach themselves to our sensitive lung tissue and the alpha radiation from the RDPs damages the tissue.
Absolutely! The EPA, the Surgeon General, The American Lung Association, the State of Illinois, and a host of other organizations all strongly recommend that all home buyers test for radon. Elevated levels have been found in every state and the potential exists in every community. Accurate testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk.
You cannot see smell or taste radon so it is easy to ignore its danger. Elevated radon is found in old and new homes, homes with or without basements, in all parts of the country.
Illinois estimates that 46% of homes in the State have elevated radon levels. I have personally found elevated radon levels in 31% of the homes I have tested in St. Louis and the Metro East area. This includes radon test conducted in: St. Louis, Belleville, Swansea, Fairview Heights, O'Fallon, Shiloh, Columbia, Godfrey, Alton and the surrounding area.
Through what is called the “Stack Effect,” radon and other soil gasses are literally sucked into the house through cracks and other openings in the foundation.
Fixing a home with a radon problem is NOT a complicated or expensive procedure. Typically it is one day of work and costs on average between $800 and $1,200. A radon mitigation system is considered a home improvement. It not only lowers radon levels but also other soil gases such as Methane, pesticides, moisture, odors and mold. A mitigation system improves the overall air quality of the home.
There are many types and manufactures of radon measurement equipment.
I use State-of-the-Art continuous radon monitors by RadStar (RS800). The RadStar monitors use precision electronics and a patented pulsed ion chamber to take continuous readings of radon concentrations. The monitor also takes hourly readings of temperature and relative humidity.
Since you are not in control of the house the EPA strongly urges the use of tamper detection techniques when conducting a radon test during a real estate transaction. The RadStar monitors have advanced tamper detection devices that make it extremely difficult to compromise the test without being caught.