Radon is a gas that is naturally occurring. Because it's a natural gas found in the environment, many buyers fail to understand the need for concern and the need to test for it before completing the home buying process. One of the most important things to understand about radon is that while it is naturally occurring, it is also a radioactive gas that is released as part of the decay of elements such as thorium, uranium, and radium that are present in soil and rocks. The radioactive particles that are released from radon can be damaging to cells lining the lungs. This can result in lung cancer. In fact, radon is actually the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. today.
While radon can obviously be quite dangerous, there are many ways to detect the presence of radon in a home. The only way to know whether a home has elevated levels of radon is to test for it. When radon is tested in a home, it is measured in piococuries per liter of air. In most cases, charcoal is used to test for the presence of radon. A trained and radon inspector will usually place several canisters of charcoal in the lowest area of the home. The charcoal will then absorb any radioactive particles that are present in the home's air. After a period of time, usually 48 hours, the home inspector will return and seal the canister. The canister will then be sent off to a laboratory to be tested.
Any level of radon in a home can present some health risk; however, according to the EPA, action should be taken if radon levels above 4.0 pCi/L are detected. The easiest way to put your mind at ease regarding the potential risk for radon in a home you are considering buying is to have the home inspected by a qualified radon home inspector. There is no need to put the health of yourself and your family at risk when a comprehensive radon test can give you the peace of mind you need when purchasing your next home.