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What is Radon Gas?

Article Details
  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 March 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Although many are not aware, their homes may contain hidden dangers due to the presence of radon gas. The gas has no color, no taste and no odor to give any type of warning to inhabitants. Normally present in the soil in most locations, radon gas becomes a serious concern when it filters indoors, lingering and becoming concentrated. Certain workplaces are also affected, including underground mining sites where the level of radon gas can reach dangerously high levels.

Radon is a natural gas which is formed when radium decays. It is a known cancer-causing agent, and health experts have estimated it causes as many as 20,000 deaths annually in the United States alone from lung cancer. It is also responsible for some cases of stomach cancer, specifically from instances when it has leached into supplies of drinking water. Unfortunately, patients affected by radon poisoning show no obvious symptoms in the early period of exposure.

The only way to know a home’s radon level and protect occupants is to procure a radon test and perform a radon measurement. There are a variety of radon test kits that can be used at home. They can be ordered online, and they can also be found in local hardware stores. Placed in a home for a certain period of time, the kit can assess the level of radon gas present.

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In addition, there are also numerous remediation services that can help homeowners. Some government organizations at the local and state levels even offer free test kits or lower-priced alternatives. If homeowners are uncomfortable handling the details themselves, there are many certified professionals available for hire who will perform tests and follow up with remediation, if necessary.

In general, there are two types of tests to check for the presence of radon gas indoors. One covers a short 48-hour period, while the other tests the buildup of radon over a period of weeks or months to get a more accurate picture of the problem. Health and safety experts recommend keeping the test kit away from humid spaces such as cooking and bathing areas because such conditions can affect the results.

If a buildup of radon is discovered in a home, the fix is easy — although not always cheap. More ventilation is the answer, especially in modern homes that have been designed to be more airtight than their older counterparts. Ideally, builders will have installed safety features such as adequate ventilation during the construction process, but that is not always the case.

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