What Is Radon?
Radon, referred to as Radon-222, is a radioactive gas released during the natural decay of thorium and uranium, which are common, naturally occurring elements found in varying amounts in rock and soil. Normal pressure differences between the foundation and the surrounding soil can create a “vacuum” which will draw radon gas from the soil into the foundation. Due to a variety of factors including lack of air, it can’t be diluted and can accumulate to significant levels.
Is It Dangerous?
Yes, it is dangerous. Odorless, colorless, tasteless – and present in more than 6,000,000 (6 million) homes in the US – it can’t be detected with human senses. According to the EPA, no radon level is considered “safe”. The risk of developing lung cancer is directly proportional to the levels and duration of exposure to radon: the higher the radon concentration, the higher the lung cancer risk. If your Radon is between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L you should consider fixing your home. If your radon is above 4 pCi/L, it is necessary you fix your home. If your home has under 2 pCi/L, there are still preventative steps you can take to protect your home.
Sources of Radon
How, and how much, it enters a home depends on the design, construction, condition, and ventilation of the home. Radon levels are generally higher in basements and rooms that are in contact with soil, however radon can enter any home through concrete floors and walls, floor drains, sump pumps, construction joints, and tiny cracks or pores in hollow-block walls. Other sources include:
• Cracks in concrete slabs
• Spaces behind brick veneer walls that rest on uncapped hollow-brick foundation
• Pores and cracks in concrete blocks
• Floor-wall joints
• Exposed soil, as in a sump
• Weeping (drain) tile, if drained to open sump
• Mortar joints
• Loose fitting pipe penetrations
• Open tops of block walls
• Building materials such as some rocks
• Water (from some wells)
Radon Mitigation and Reduction
How much Radon is in your basement will be the primary factor for determining which Radon system is best for you. For basements with low levels of Radon, repairing cracks and using a penetrating sealer may be enough to reduce, or eliminate, Radon. For basements with high levels of Radon, a mitigation system may have to be installed in conjunction with repairing cracks and using a penetrating sealer.