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Radon

No more than four (4 pCi/L)!

The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) and about 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air. Most homes today can be reduced to 2 pCi/L.

Each year, it is estimated that radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, according to EPA’s 2003 Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003). It’s found naturally in the ground and seeps through cracks or holes in the foundation and become trapped in your home.

The Discovery of Radon in Homes

In 1984, the scientific world woke up to the existence of radon in homes. A construction engineer triggered radiation alarms while entering the Limerick nuclear power plant near Philadelphia. His home in Boyertown was tested and the radon concentration was a shocking 2,700 pCi/L.

The family, including small children, was immediately evacuated. Very high radon levels were also found in nearby houses. This region, known as the Reading Prong, has low-grade uranium deposits and encompasses parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

Radon Testing:

There are relatively simple tests for radon gas, but these tests are not commonly done, even in areas of known systematic hazards. Home radon test kits are widely available and can be found at your local Walmart, Target, or hardware store. The short-term radon test kits used for screening purposes are inexpensive (under $15) and some states offer home test for free. The kit includes a collector that the user hangs in the lowest livable floor of the home for 2 to 7 days. The user then sends the collector to a laboratory for analysis.

If your home radon kits result is 4 pCi/L or higher you should contact your state radon office and schedule a follow-up long-term test for a better understanding of your year-round average radon level.

If you followed up with a long-term test and the results are 4 pCi/L or more, you should fix your home.

The five principal ways of reducing the amount of radon accumulating in a home are:

The half-life for radon is 3.8 days, indicating that once the source is removed, the hazard will be greatly reduced within a few weeks.

 

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