Forget About Asbestos and Lead Paint, Is Your Home Contaminated By Radon Gas?

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While American homeowners have known about the dangers of lead paint and lead contamination for decades, they may remain unaware of the dangers of radon contamination. Radon is a noble gas that is a by-product of Uranium decomposing slowly into lead. It is not used in many scientific settings and is considered hazardous in a residential setting. Radon is currently listed as the second most common cause of lung cancer, and homeowners in every state are looking into residential radon testing for their properties.

Homes that are at risk for radon contamination need to be tested: environmental health agencies recently conducted residential radon testing in thousands of homes — across seven states — and determined that 33% of the homes tested had levels of radon that were too high. Buildings that are at a higher than average risk for radon contamination were often insufficiently ventilated or that had cracks in their ventilation: people who live near petroleum refineries or natural gas processing plants may be at a higher risk for radon contamination as well.

If you are looking into the possibility of testing for radon, you can either get short-term or long-term detectors put into your home. The short-term detectors last about three months, while the long-term detectors run for more than 90 days. If you’re getting a sump pump installation, you will want to talk to your installation contractor about the possibility of radon testing. There are ways to lessen radon levels in your home or office, and you may want to consider installing a radon-specific ventilation system.

In general, about 8% of all homeowners should expect to find that their radon levels are above normal. Residential radon testing services can be performed in conjunction with lead paint tests and other tests for contaminated soil. Lead continues to be an issue across the United States, and people who purchase a new property may not be aware that their backyard is contaminated with ambient lead. If your home tests positive for lead in the soil, keep children away from the affected area. Often, residential radon testing can be done as part of the preliminary inspection: just make sure that you ask for it when you schedule the inspection services. Radon levels can vary considerably from room to room of your home, but inspectors know how to test your property for radon gas exposure.

Homes that are older than about 40 years old should be tested for both lead paint and for lead contamination in water and soil. Many homeowners do not realize that for many decades, lead was used to join water pipes together. It was seen as a useful material and commonly used. Much later, health officials began formal campaigns to raise awareness of lead and asbestos contamination. Children may be at a slightly higher risk for lead poisoning if they accidentally ingest paint chips or soil. If your pet has an illness that you can’t quite put your finger on, they could have been exposed to soil that contains lead or radon. If pets are sick for more than 12 to 24 hours in a row, you should take them to the vet immediately and ask for the full range of tests.

Interestingly, people have been deliberately exposing themselves to low doses of radon for decades. There are several springs throughout the United States that bill themselves as radioactive, and radon has been used in the treatment of some cancers. There has been some experimental progress with using low doses of radon to treat arthritis, but homeowners would prefer that radon experimentation stayed in the laboratory. Exposure to radon gas may increase the risk of lung cancer, and homeowners are advised to test their soil at least once per year. Soil testing kits are widely available online, and although the likelihood of accidental exposure to radon remains low, it is still worth taking the time to tell if your home could be at risk.