We go to great lengths to ensure our home is a safe and comfortable environment for our loved ones. Even after all the precautions we take, there still may be a hidden danger lurking in our homes.
What is Radon?
Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that’s produced by decaying uranium. It’s present in nearly all soils. Very low levels of radon are found in the air we breathe every day.
Elevated radon levels have been found in every county of every state in the United States.
Radon can enter any building regardless of age, structure, foundation, or style. New homes, old homes, homes on slabs and crawlspaces can all have elevated radon levels. There is no way to know unless you test.
Effects of Radon
When radon enters our homes it can get trapped and create a long-term exposure, which can lead to lung cancer. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind smoking.
The EPA estimates that around 21,000 Americans die yearly due to radon-induced lung cancer – that’s more than accidental drowning and carbon monoxide poisonings combined.
There are no short-term effects of radon such as coughing or shortness of breath.
How Does It Get into My Home?
The gas itself can seep into pores from the concrete, through gaps in walls and floors, or from the soil directly into the home.
The way your house interacts with soil will determine your radon level and your neighbor’s home could have a completely different radon level from your own.
Radon levels can change and are affected by weather conditions.
can cause the uranium levels to rise.
If the ground around your home becomes saturated, frozen or covered with snow, it keeps the radon in the ground—preventing it from escaping. Wind can also change the pressure around your home, diffusing radon into your home.
Pro-tip: We recommend not testing during severe weather or high winds.
Laws for Protection and Prevention
Thankfully, Illinois has various proactive radon laws in place today. It’s recommended that all residential dwellings below the third floor test for radon.
In addition, the Residential New Construction Act requires all new single-family and duplex homes be built with a radon-ready ‘passive’ venting system.
New construction homebuyers should proactively test for radon before purchasing and moving in to the home.
If alarming levels of radon are present, only a licensed radon contractor is permitted to activate the builder’s passive system.
What You Can Do
If you find that your home has elevated levels of radon, there are a few repairs you can make before retesting:
- Caulk foundation cracks, construction joints, and other openings with polyurethane caulk
- Install an airtight cover on your sump pump
- Cover soil in crawl spaces with polyurethane plastic sheeting (with a minimum thickness of 6 mil) tightly attached to the walls
- You can also try sealing concrete, although the EPA has found concrete sealers to be a temporary solution at best
We Can Help!
If you haven’t tested your home or you’re due for a retest, CBI offers radon testing in-house through our wholly owned company Chicago Radon Testing.
Schedule your appointment today!
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