As a homeowner, there are many things to be aware of to keep your home safe and healthy, but one thing that often doesn’t receive enough attention is radon. Radon exposure affects more homes than you might imagine and it is important to know whether your home is at risk. The following will highlight the dangers of radon exposure and why it occurs in homes throughout the country.
Understanding the Dangers of Radon Exposure
Several studies have linked radon exposure to lung cancer, which is especially true for those who smoke. Radon is chemically inert and there is no charge, yet the atom can decay spontaneously, which makes it harmful.
The radon atoms can also change into electrically charged atoms, which could then attach themselves to dust in your home that a person inhales. This results in radioactive atoms in your lungs that could mutate into other particles or begin to decay, leading to DNA damage. As many experts have noted, the mutation of cells or damage of cells is the foundation of any cancer, which is partly why radon is so dangerous to people.
Being exposed to something that could raise the risk of lung cancer should concern any homeowner. The following are some early signs of lung cancer, which are worth noting:
- Persistent cough
- Cough with blood in it
- Consistent wheezing
- Hoarseness or shortness of breath
- Chest pains, especially when coughing
- Issues like bronchitis or pneumonia
Why is Radon Such a Danger to Homes?
The biggest reason radon is a danger to homes is that it is natural and it can be found everywhere. Radon seeps through soil and rises into the air. Of course, the concentration in the atmosphere does not affect you all that much, but a problem arises when radon is concentrated in a single location like a home. The gas is created from the uranium that is in the ground. It is formed after water begins to break down soil or rocks that contain uranium, which is the reason it can only be controlled instead of eliminated.
How Radon Enters a Home
The gases are supposed to just disperse into the atmosphere, but there are times when certain home conditions could allow these gases to enter your home. These conditions look particularly harmless and are usually overlooked, which makes homeowners vulnerable to the dangers of radon exposure. For example, cracks or holes in the walls or foundation of a home can let in some of these gases.
Window seal problems can also allow a home to build up a dangerous concentration of radon and so could plumbing fixture issues. Basically, you do not want to see openings in your home where gases from the soil could make their way into your home. Homeowners need to be especially careful if they live next to a well or if they have a water leak under the foundation of their homes.
What Are the Next Steps?
Making sure some of these issues are not affecting your home is going to be hard without a home inspector. Every home should be tested for radon by a professional. If the levels are at an elevated level that is considered unhealthy (above 4 picocuries per liter), radon mitigation devices can be installed. Once the levels have been brought back down to a safe level, you should then fix any structural issues that made it easier for the radon levels to get high in the first place. Periodic radon testing should continue regularly even after the home has been mitigated.