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Reducing Your Home's Radon Risk

Reducing Your Home’s Radon Risk

Radon is an odorless, colorless, and extremely dangerous radioactive gas. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), radon is linked to more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. per year, approximately 2,900 of which are people who have never smoked. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind tobacco.

The product of uranium decay, radon is a naturally occurring gas usually found in soil, rock, or well water. Because the air pressure in the soil outside is typically higher than the pressure inside, the hazardous chemical can be silently drawn into a home through the foundation, crawlspace, walls, doors, cracks and water system. The National Cancer Institute estimates 1 in 15 American homes have an elevated level of radon.

We’re not telling you all of this to scare you. We just want to ensure you take the necessary precautions to mitigate your radon risk and protect you and your family from harm.

U.S. Radon Maps

The US EPA provides an interactive, county-by-county radon map enabling you to zoom in and see your location’s radon zone. The map also provides contact information and resources for each state, including phone numbers, websites, and educational programs. Additionally, the CDC tracks several state and city health departments on its website and provides direct links to each program’s radon data.

Understanding Radon Zones

There are three distinctly colored zones on the US EPA’s maps. Zone 1 (red) represents the highest potential for radon risk. These counties have an average indoor radon level of 4 picocuries per liter. This number is considered the “action level” indicating the need to take radon mitigation measures, although lower levels do not necessarily mean you’re in the clear from harm.

Zone 2 (orange) signifies moderate potential, with average radon levels between 2 and 4 picocuries per liter. Zone 3 (yellow) represents areas with the lowest risk of exposure – less than 2 picocuries per liter. The Midwest, Mountain West, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic appear to have the highest concentration of Zone 1 counties, while the South is almost entirely in Zone 3.

What’s My Radon Risk?

Even if you are in Zone 3 on the radon map, you are still likely breathing in at least traces of the gas on a regular basis. In fact, it is considered impossible to completely eliminate radon. There are short-term tests, such as detectors and monitors, that can uncover your home’s radon level in as little as a few days. Long-term tests measure radon levels over the course of months, which usually means a more reliable reading. Most hardware stores sell radon test kits that you can simply place in your basement for a set period of time and then mail to the manufacturer for the results. If you’re looking for extra assurance, the EPA can help you locate a measurement and mitigation professional in addition to a test kit.

Choosing a Radon Contractor

A radon contractor can help you assess and address your risk for radon exposure. Since radon mitigation contractors generally offer the same services, use this plain-and-simple process to pick one in confidence:

  • Visit the contractor’s website to confirm they are reputable and licensed.
  • Schedule a home inspection.
  • Receive an estimate with references.
  • Contact the references and ask them if they were satisfied with the contractor’s work.
  • Ask that the contractor explain what they will do and how long it will take.
  • Ask about any extra fees for things like diagnostic tests or system installation.
  • Don’t proceed with the service without a warranty.

Once the work is completed, of course, you will want to see the before and after reading for radon in your home. The numbers don’t lie!

Radon Mitigation Materials

vapor barrier is a thick plastic sheet designed to seal out radon and other harmful chemicals found in soil, groundwater, and septic systems. Vapor barriers can be used for crawlspaces, roofs, walls, and slab foundations.

Crawlspace vapor barriers offer significant protection when the material meets or exceeds ASTM E1745 Class C Standard. These vapor barriers block radon, mold, mildew, and other contributors to poor air quality. An under slab vapor barrier is also used widely for radon protection, especially in commercial buildings and warehouses.

Americover offers these solutions in varying thicknesses, colors, and custom sizes to meet your needs. Call 760-747-6095 or email to have your radon barrier questions answered by one of our experts. You can also browse our full selection of vapor barriers online.