5 Causes of Radon in Your Home
Radon gas is produced during the decay of elements such as uranium and radium. The gas is comprised of radioactive particles that, when breathed in, damage the cells lining your lungs. When exposed to high levels of radon over extended periods of time, you are more likely to develop lung cancer. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. But where does radon come from?
So what causes radon? Radon exists naturally in the ground, and there are five common causes of radon in your home. Any of these sources can release the deadly gas into your home, where it is trapped and can build to dangerous levels.
1. CAUSES OF RADON IN YOUR HOME: SOIL
The radon source you should be most wary of is the soil beneath your home. What causes radon is the decay of radioactive elements that naturally occur in rocks and stones in the soil. If there is radon in the ground below your home, it will find its way through cracks, gaps, and porous materials into your home. Underground basements are especially concerning. To build the basement, your home builder dug deep into the earth and potentially made contact with radioactive elements like uranium. Radon gas will rise into the home through the smallest of basement wall or floor cracks.
2. CAUSES OF RADON IN YOUR HOME: ROCKS
Similarly, rocks beneath your home contribute a large portion of the radon escaping into the house. Rocks and stones contain veins of radioactive materials that decay into radon. While radon released from rocks outside dissipates in the outdoor air, the radon in the rocks below your foundation is released directly through small cracks into the home.
3. CAUSES OF RADON IN YOUR HOME: CRACKS AND GAPS
While crawlspaces can suffer from a radon problem, cement foundations, whether slab or basement, are particularly concerning because of cement's porous nature. Coupled with any cracks in the foundation and gaps in your flooring and around pipes, and radon has easy access to your home.
A DIY solution is filling in every crack and gap with caulk to limit radon's access to your living space.
4. CAUSES OF RADON IN YOUR HOME: NATURAL STONE
Any natural stone in your home may contain trace amounts of radioactive elements like uranium and radium. These elements are naturally occurring, and decay into other radioactive elements like radon gas. The radioactive makeup of any given slab of stone varies, and you generally have to be in constant proximity to suffer from the health effects of radon gas in natural stone.
The most common culprit of natural stone radon gas emissions is granite. Granite countertops create only a small fraction of the gas inside your home, but as there is no safe level of radon, any emission is dangerous emission.
5. CAUSES OF RADON IN YOUR HOME: WELL WATER
If you have well water sourced from an aquifer, there is a chance the water contains radon. Well water is in close contact with rocks and soil containing radon, and this is carried into your home. The gas is released into your indoor air when you brush your teeth, wash the dishes and take a shower.
While, again, creating only a small fraction of the radon gas in your home, it is still concerning, and you should mitigate the problem. There are two ways to fix radon in your well water. Granular activated carbon (GAC) filters for a point of entry attack, and aeration devices that bubble air through the water and carry the released gas through a vent to the outside.
CAUSES OF RADON IN YOUR HOME: SOLUTIONS
Before you begin the mitigation process, test your home. The U.S. EPA's radon action level is 4.0 pCi/L, the preferred concentration is 2.0 pCi/L, and the ideal level is the average outdoor level of 0.4 pCi/L, though it is challenging to mitigate below 2.0 pCi/L.
Once you know your level, you can decide whether it's practical to install a radon mitigation system. A typical system consists of a motorized fan and PVC pipes running from the lowest part of the home to the top of the house. The fan uses pressure difference the draw the radon out of the, through the pipes and out a vent at the top where it safely dissipates into the air. Always use a certified company for your radon testing and radon mitigation needs.
More info? For more information about the health effects of radon, check out our other post: Radon Gas Health Symptoms to be Aware Of.
Call 877-957-5670 to schedule an appointment with an AdvantaClean radon specialist today!