As a new homeowner, you may have heard the term radon a few times while researching and going through the buying process and may be worried that this radioactive gas may be in your home. Before you go into a panic, however, it is important to learn more about the causes of high radon levels, as well as the adverse health effects it can cause.
Causes of High Radon Levels
Radon is a gas that is found everywhere in the natural world. As other radioactive elements in the ground, rocks, and other materials are broken down, radon is one of the byproducts. Normally, when this gas is emitted outdoors, the small amounts are dissipated in the air so it does not do any harm.
However, if materials in your home, such as concrete, drywall, stones, or even your water supply break down and give off this gas, it becomes trapped by the exterior structures, which allows it to build up. The gas can also come into your home from the ground through cracks in your home's foundation or floors.
Unfortunately, since the gas has no odor, color, or any other sign that it is present, you cannot simply smell the air or look around your house to see if it is there. The only way to know the levels is to have your home's air professionally tested.
Adverse Health Effects
While radon in the outside world usually does not do any harm, it can have devastating adverse health effects for the people living in your house. After smoking tobacco products, long-term exposure to the gas is the leading cause of lung cancer.
And, if you have children, the effects are even worse. Because children are more sensitive to radon gas and tend to have higher breathing rates, they inhale more of it. This increased inhalation while they are younger can significantly increase their chances of lung cancer when they become adults. And, since radon is only detectable by special testing, you may not know just for how long you and your family have been exposed.
Since there are no immediate symptoms of radon exposure, it is important that you have your new home tested to make sure that its levels are minimal. Contact a business that offers radon mitigation services to have them test your home and discuss with you what can be done if the levels are found to be too high.