According to Dr. J. Robert Galvin, Commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, one in every five homes in the state has high radon levels.
For that reason, every home in Connecticut should be tested for radon --single and multi-family homes, condominiums, even mobile homes. While radon problems are more prevalent in basements, homes that sit on crawl space or slab foundations are not safe from radon exposure.
Radon is a naturally-occurring, odorless, invisible gas, produced by the decay of radio-active particles present in the soil. It is sometimes referred to as the silent killer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to high levels of radon (above 4 pCi/L) is linked to 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year in the U.S. Radon-related lung cancer results in more deaths every year than drunk driving (13,470 deaths/year).
According to the radon prevalence map issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Hartford County has a lower level of radon gas emissions than its neighboring counties, especially those along the shoreline. However, homeowners shouldn't assume that their Hartford-area home is safe, based on these maps.
Outdoors, radon emissions are harmless because they never reach high levels of concentration. What makes radon particularly dangerous is that it can quickly reach higher, unsafe levels of concentration when confined within the walls of a building. Concentration levels typically increase during the winter months, when doors and windows remain closed most of the time.
A combination of factors determines a home’s likelihood of having radon problems. Geographic location is only one of them. Construction details, home style, foundation type and house size also play a part when it comes to radon levels. It is not safe to assume that your home is radon-free just because you live in a low incidence area, or because your neighbor had his home tested and the radon levels were low.
DIY Radon Test Kits are affordable and can be purchased online from the American Lung Association or the National Radon Defense website. Some towns in Connecticut are providing free kits to qualified, low-income residents.
For more accurate results you can also have your home professionally tested by a local radon mitigation company.
DIY test kits include a radon detector that is mailed to a lab; results are available after a few days. These test kits are easy to use, but they must be used correctly by the homeowner to avoid false results. All family members must follow the testing instructions carefully to ensure accurate readings. Otherwise, you will need to repeat the test before you are confident in the results.
Professional radon tests are usually faster and more accurate, because they are performed within a controlled environment, and with highly sensitive professional equipment. Professional radon testing usually requires two quick visits from a technician. In the first visit, the Continuous Radon Monitor is installed and the family is given instructions on how to avoid interfering with the readings.
On the second visit, usually 48 hours later, the technician will analyze the results and discuss them with the homeowner.
Avoiding Radon Panic
You had your home tested, and the results show high levels of radon concentration. Now what?
First of all, don’t panic.
The EPA recommends that homeowners fix their homes if the results of one long-term test or the average of two short-term tests show radon levels of 4 pCi/L (or 0.02 WL) or higher.
Rest assured that no matter how high, radon levels can be safely and affordably reduced by a professional radon company. Most radon mitigation systems can be installed in less than a day.
January is Radon Action Month
It is a great time to take the necessary steps to protect your family against this sneaky, silent killer. Considering how affordable radon testing is, and what is in stake – the health of your family – there is no reason to wait any longer to take action.
For more information about radon, visit the EPA Radon Action Site and the American Lung Association. To locate a radon mitigation specialist in Connecticut or any other state, visit the National Radon Defense website.