Radon is a by-product of the natural, radioactive decay of uranium in soils and rocks and can sometimes be found in well water. The gas is naturally found in the air we breathe, but can also enter a home or building through drains, cracks or holes in the foundation or basement.
Radon gas can then become trapped inside the home or building and build up to dangerous levels. Radon is a known carcinogen. The gas is undetectable by sight, smell or taste. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among non-smokers in the US and claims the lives of about 21,000 in the US each year per EPA estimates.
Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air, represented as “pCi/L.” The average concentration of radon in outdoor air is 0.4 pCi/L, but radon levels inside a home that are 4.0 pCi/L or higher should be mitigated.
An EPA map, epa.gov/radon, predicts all of Texas to have indoor radon of less than 2.0 pCi/L, yet still recommends that all homes, whether new or old be tested for radon. One of our own staff members discovered high levels of radon in their home after a shocking diagnosis of lung cancer. The parent of another staff member also had an elevated level, both homes are in the city of Austin. Clearly it is not safe to assume the entire state is low risk. Simple, inexpensive, do-it-yourself test kits are available at major home and hardware stores or can be ordered online. We used doctorhomeair.com/. For more information visit epa.gov/radon
Barnett, C. Dwight. “What is radon gas” Austin American Statesman Print.
image courtesy of barroncountywi.gov