Frequently Asked Questions
- What is radon?
Radon originates from Uranium 238. Almost anywhere in the world you can find some radioactive Uranium 238 in the soil. Radioactive simply means that the element or atom occasionally loses part of itself and changes into a different element. The energy released as the atom changes is known as radioactive decay and causes varying amounts of damage to whatever surrounds it. Uranium 238 goes through a number of decays before becoming radon. All the elements before and after radon are solids. Radon, however, is a noble gas which means it can freely move through the soil. Radon also has just enough life span (half of it decays in 4 days) to float through the soil and then into our homes. back to top
- Is radon's connection with lung cancer scientifically valid?
Every scientific group that has carefully looked at the available data has agreed that there is a connection between radon exposure and lung cancer. Radon has a Class A carcinogen rating. back to top
- Are radon levels below 4 pCi/L safe?
Other environmental exposures are regulated to reduce the lifetime risk of cancer to one in 100,000. The EPA lists Radon risk exposure to 4.0 in a thousand non-smokers or 62 additional lung cancers in 1000 smokers. The risk is considered linear which means even 2 pCi/L for a lifetime would cause 3 additional cancers in 1000 non-smokers. Fortunately, most of us are not exposed for a lifetime; however, we would get a similar risk if we were exposed to four times as much for a quarter of a lifetime or 16 pCi/L in your bedroom for 17 years. back to top
- Can I do my own radon test?
You can always test your own home even if it is involved in a real estate transaction. A new buyer, however, may only feel comfortable with a radon test done by a certified independent radon tester. back to top
- Are electronic radon monitors more accurate than passive testers?
Electronic radon monitors can be more accurate than passive test kits such a charcoal detectors or E-Perms. Electronic radon monitors offer the advantage of measuring the radon levels every hour, which can indicate unusual radon patterns or possible radon test tampering. back to top
- Does it make a difference if my house is drafty or very airtight?
Radon levels are primarily due to three factors; location, location, location. How much radon is in the ground and how easily can gas move through soil. The type of house and its air tightness is less important. back to top
- Do slab on grade or walk out basements have high levels?
People assume that slab on grade or walk out basements will have low radon levels. Unless the windows or doors are left open, radon from soil can just as easily enter these types of buildings. back to top
- Can radon be reduced by sealing cracks and slab openings?
Reducing the radon levels in a home by sealing cracks or a sump pit has not proven to be very effective. This is partially due to the radon levels in the soil building up to a higher concentration when the openings are sealed so that less soil air come in but it comes in at a higher radon concentration. Sealing is still a necessary component of a common sub-slab depressurization radon mitigation system. back to top
- Who can install a radon mitigation system?
A certified mitigation individual must either visit the home, typically as part of the estimate, or must be present at the initiation of the mitigation installation. A mitigation certified individual must inspect the completed system if the original mitigation system designed by the certified individual is changed. back to top
- Can a high efficiency or HEPA filter reduce radon levels?
Radon is a noble gas which means it does not stick to anything including furnace filters, so filters will not reduce radon levels. Filters will capture radon decay products which are charged particles. There is some discussion among experts that this may reduce the health risk but the furnace fan would need to run continuously and filter every occupied room. The EPA does not recommend radon remediation using filters. back to top