What is Your Home’s Radon Risk?
Radon is a radioactive gas that is odorless, colorless, and extremely dangerous. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), radon is linked to more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. annually. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind tobacco.
The product of uranium decay, radon is usually found in soil, rock, or well water. The hazardous chemical can enter a home through the foundation, crawlspace, walls, doors, cracks and water system – all without the homeowner ever knowing. 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 for radon mitigation if your home and family are at risk.
Radon Maps in the U.S.
The US EPA maps radon by county and provides an interactive radon map on its website enabling you to zoom in and see the radon zone for your location. The map also offers contact information and resources for each state, including phone numbers, websites, and educational programs.
What do Radon Zones Mean?
There are three distinctly colored zones on the US EPA’s maps. Zone 1 is colored red and represents the highest potential for radon. These counties have an average indoor radon level of 4 picocuries per liter. This number is considered the “action level” to seek radon mitigation, although lower levels do not necessarily mean you’re in the clear from harm.
Zone 2 is colored orange for moderate potential, with average radon levels between 2 and 4 picocuries per liter. Zone 3, with the lowest risk of exposure, is yellow and has less than 2 picocuries per liter. The Midwest, Mountain West, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic appear to have the highest concentration of Zone 1 counties. The South, meanwhile, is almost completely in Zone 3.
Am I Exposed to Radon?
Even if you are in Zone 3 on the radon map, you are still likely breathing at least a trace of radon as we speak, or perhaps somewhere along your daily routine. 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.
Choosing a Radon Contractor
A radon contractor can help you assess and enhance your home for radon protection. 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, such as for diagnostic tests or system installation.
- Be sure there is 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
A 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 760-388-6294 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to have your radon barrier questions answered by one of our experts. You can also browse Americover vapor barriers online.