January is Radon Awareness Month

Welcome to 2013! I see you made it past the Mayan Doomsday Prophecy, so the rest of the year should be a piece of cake! January is quite the celebratory month; besides being the home of New Year’s Day, January also happens to be:

  1. National Soup Month
  2. National Oatmeal Month
  3. National Hobby Month
  4. National Braille Literacy Month
  5. National Blood Donor Month
  6. National Bath Safety Month, and
  7. Hot Tea Month

So, if your hobby is eating oatmeal soup in the bath tub while giving blood and learning Braille, you have the chance for one heck of a party!

OK…

So, January also happens to be Radon Awareness Month, and since we’ve been asked a couple of times what radon is and why anyone should care, I thought it might be a good idea to shine some light on this mysterious subject.

Radon is a radioactive gas. It’s colorless, odorless and tasteless, but it can sure cause problems for homeowners. It’s radioactive because it’s formed by the natural decay of uranium, first into radium, and then into radon. It’s present in nearly all soils, but not at the same levels. Some locations have higher concentrations, some lower. It seeps up through the soil and into your home through holes and cracks in the foundation, becoming trapped inside. In high concentrations, it can be a significant contributor to lung cancer, particular if there is a smoker in the household.

The charts below show the levels of concentration of radon in The United States and in Connecticut:

National Radon Map

Radon concentrations in Connecticut

As you can see, the four southern-most counties in Connecticut have the highest potential for high levels of radon. “Well, that means every house in southern Connecticut is full of radon, right?”, you may ask. Not at all. While there may be a potential for high radon readings in a specific home, only testing will determine what those levels are. In fact, if a home is found to have a high radon level, it could well be that the house next door has much different levels. Again, only by conducting radon testing in the subject homes can the actual radon levels be measured. “Well, if my house has a lot of radon I may as well forget trying to sell it, right?”, you may ask. Not at all. The elimination or reduction of radon levels in a home can be easily done, and at fairly low cost. Once the remediation measures are in place, they may even serve as a good selling point for the home. “Well, my home is brand new, so there’s no way it can have high radon readings, right?”, you may ask. Not so. Radon can affect any kind of home: old, new, drafty, insulated, with or without a basement. Local geology, construction materials, and how the home was built are among the factors that can affect radon levels in homes.

Since this is Radon Awareness Month, it’s as good a time as any for homeowners to have their homes tested for radon, especially if you’re thinking of selling in the near future. If your home is already on the market and you have received and accepted an offer, the prospective buyer should have a radon test done as part of the home inspection. Many home inspectors do them as an added service, and there are also many companies who specifically do radon testing. We recommend to all our buyer clients to have a radon test done, and we often get asked what radon is (hence, this blog post!).

Radon guide coverThe EPA has a great brochure on radon that gives specifics on what it is, when you should test for it, how to test for it and other important information. You can download it in PDF format by clicking the image to the right, or read it online HERE.

In addition, there will be a radon information session held by the Wallingford Health Department on Tuesday, January 15th in the Collins Room of the Wallingford Public Library. The hour-long session starts at 12:00 pm, and chief sanitarian Steve Civitelli and public health educator Chris More will answer questions and pass out free radon test kits to those who want them.

 

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Comments

  1. Eric Szvoboda

    This is a great article! Radon can be so terrible! My sister in San Diego almost bough a house that was a very high radon level. However, they were about to have their first child and the doctor said that it was like guaranting the child will have lung cancer in the future if your home is filled with radon. Something to check out!

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  3. Felix Lee

    This is very valuable information. I hope homeowners who learn about this are encouraged to get their homes tested for radon. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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