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Radon: The Silent Killer in Your Home

Jan 14, 2019

You feel like you have a cold coming on. You keep coughing and your throat feels hoarse. Every time you cough or laugh your chest hurts. Now that you think about it, this cold has been coming on for months. You go to the doctor and after some tests she tells you the unthinkable: You have lung cancer. You’re wondering how that’s possible. You never smoked. You didn’t hang around people who smoked.

A Natural (Airborne) Killer

There may be a silent killer in your home called radon gas. You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it. It is naturally occurring, but don’t equate natural with harmless. Radioactive elements such as uranium are found in soil and rock nearly everywhere in the world. Over time these elements break down and release radon gas into the air. Once airborne, radon can find its way into your home.

Radon: The Silent Killer in Your Home 1

Radon poisoning is symptomless. You only know you’ve been poisoned when you develop lung cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 21,000 people die of lung cancer linked to radon poisoning each year (source). It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer. (Smoking is the first.) Some research shows that radon gas may also be linked to childhood leukemia and other cancers, but the evidence for that is not as strong as it is for lung cancer.

The Air You Breathe

Radon gas is in the air around you. In small amounts, it can’t hurt you. Radon levels are measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L). You’re at risk if your home has high levels of radon gas. When radon gas is consistently 4.0 pCi/L or higher, the air you breathe is literally poisoned. Radon gets into the lining of your lungs. The radiation it gives off damages your cells and can lead to lung cancer. It takes a long time; about 5-25 years. The EPA estimates that 1 in 15 homes in the United States has elevated radon levels. It can vary from house to house. The soil underneath your home may be giving off higher levels of radon than your neighbor’s home.

Seek Professional Help

The first thing you want to do is hire a professional for radon testing in Atlanta, GA. If your levels are 4.0 pCi/L or higher, a licensed radon mitigation contractor can help you develop a plan. There are several ways to reduce the amount of radon coming into your home. Your risk mitigation plan may include sealing and caulking cracks in your foundation and running a pipe from the soil up to the roof to release radon gas outside your home.

Breathe Easy

Sometimes a cold is just a cold. But you’ll breathe easier if you can rule out high levels of radon in your home. You may not be able to see radon gas, but a certified home inspector can find it. The charge is very reasonable: It typically costs $150 to $300 to have your home inspected. A small price to pay to know that you and your family are safe now and in the future.

Read more: Gas Leak in a Brand New Home

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