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Let’s talk about radon!

Many homeowners, sellers, or buyers are conscious of radon but do not know anything about it. Let’s elaborate.

What is radon?

Radon comes from the breakdown or decay of uranium. It can be found in the earth and different types of rocks. It can also be found in soils contaminated with certain types of industrial wastes. It is diluted in the air and, therefore, usually in low concentrations (so that there is nothing to worry about). However, inside a house, the levels are more contained and depend on the building construction and/or concentrations of radon in the soils beneath the house. How common is the problem?

Most houses are not likely to be affected. Only a very few have elevated levels, but most houses have some radon present. There is no specific or exact data as to the frequency of occurrence and/or which areas are more likely to be a concern. How does radon enter a house?

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Radon is a gas and can enter through small cracks in concrete floors, holes in foundation walls, from dirt floors, from sump pumps, floor drains, well water, and even from some construction materials (such as large fieldstone fireplaces, solar heating stone beds, different masonry products, etc.).What effect can radon have on you?

The only major health hazard currently known to elevated radon exposure levels is an increased possibility of developing lung cancer. Not everyone exposed will develop a problem, and the contamination process can take many years. In general, your risk goes up with the amount of time exposed and radon concentration. How long has radon been around?

Radon has always been present in the air. It was discovered in houses in the 1960s when some western US houses were built with contaminated uranium mines. Since then, high radon has been found in areas affected by related industrial activity. Since then, there has been an awareness of high radon levels in houses built near or over natural uranium deposits in the earth. Radon, however, seems to be able to surface just about anywhere and can have very different levels from one house to another. How do you detect radon?

The most common method is by using a charcoal canister, alpha-track detector or charcoal liquid scintillation device. These are left opened in specified areas of your house for a specific period of time. After the testing period is over, you carefully close the device and then send it to a lab for analysis. This type of testing device is available at hardware stores, builder supply, etc.. The fee to purchase the device usually includes the testing device, a container to mail the device to the lab and the lab will send you back the results. You can also pay an inspector or testing firm to do this for you (usually, at a substantially higher cost due to the fact that they are doing the leg work).Just remember, you cannot see, smell or taste radon, but if it is detected there are ways to correct the problem. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable standards. The cost of making repairs to reduce radon depends on when your house was built, the construction methods utilized and other factors. Overall, most residences can be remedied for about the same cost as other common home repairs (such as painting, having a new hot water tank installed, etc.). A variety of methods can be used such as sealing cracks, pouring concrete over dirt floors, patching holes in your foundation, etc.. There are also radon reduction contractors available who should be approved by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

Inspections By MJK
Mitch & Celeste Kuffa
627 N Riverside
St. Clair, MI 48079
(810) 329-4052

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