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Testing For Radon Gas: Why You Should Resolve to Do So Now

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated January as National Radon Action Month. As the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, resulting in 20,000 deaths each year, radon is nothing to take lightly. This is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer, but you can’t see or smell it. Getting the radon level in the home tested is the only way to know for sure. Why is this such an important topic for us? Because we know how much time aging and ill seniors spend in their homes. If you have a loved one getting hospice at home in Alameda County and elsewhere, this is an important topic to follow.

Make radon testing a resolution as we head into 2020!

What is Radon?

Radon causes up to 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year, making it the second leading cause of lung cancer. Lung cancer brought on by radon costs this country more than $2 billion dollars per year, according to The alpha radiation emitted by radon is equal to the alpha radiation emitted by other radiation sources like plutonium. In fact, if your home has radon levels of 4 pCi/L, you are exposed to 35 times as much radiation as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would allow if you were to stand next to a radioactive waste site.

In a nutshell, radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless, and radioactive. It forms from the decay of radioactive elements, such as uranium, found in the ground. This gas can move from soil and rock into the air, and make its way into underground and surface water. Radon can be present both outdoors and indoors, although it’s found at low levels in outdoor air and in drinking water stemming from rivers and lakes. It is detected at higher levels in indoor air within houses and other buildings, as well as in well water.

Radon Exposure

Radon can be breathed into the lungs, giving off radiation that can damage the DNA inside the cells in your body. Most exposure to radon occurs from being indoors in your homes, offices, schools, and other buildings. Levels can vary greatly in different parts of the country, and can even vary by neighborhood. Radon gas enters buildings through cracks in floors or walls, through construction joints, or via gaps in foundations. You’ll usually find the highest levels in basements and crawl spaces because these areas are closest to the soil or rock providing the radon source.

Additionally, radon may be released from the water supply into the air, where it is inhaled. Radon in water is less risky than radon in air particles. Over time, exposure to radon can cause lung cancer. The gas lodges in the lining of the lungs, giving off radiation, damaging lung cells and eventually resulting in lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

How to Test for Radon

The EPA says the average indoor radon level is about 1.3 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). If you have radon levels higher than 4.0 pCi/L, you should take immediate action to lower radon levels in your home. About one in every 15 homes in the United States has reported elevated radon levels. While it’s impossible to avoid radon completely, there are some steps you can take to lower your risk. To start, you have to check the radon levels in your home to find out if you need to lower those levels.

There are DIY radon detection kits you can order online or buy in a hardware store that you place in the home for a certain period of time and then mail them to a lab to be analyzed. Or, you can hire a professional to perform radon testing for radon levels in your home. Check this link to see where you can find qualified contractors in your area.

If your levels come back high, there are steps you can take to reduce radon levels in your home, such as sealing cracks in floors and walls or increasing ventilation with pipes and fans. It’s recommended that you hire a qualified contractor to address the issue, as inexperienced homeowners may unwittingly make the problem worse with DIY remedies. The best way to reduce radon levels is to install a radon-reduction system, which can reduce the presence of this gas in your home by up to 99 percent.

Call a professional to ask questions about your specific situation and area. Keeping your senior safe is a high priority, especially if they live or spend a majority of time in the basement. Make this your New Year’s Resolution!

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

To learn more about our hospice program in Alameda County and beyond, please contact us today at 888-978-1306.