Southern New Jersey
Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh Valley
WHAT IS RADON?
Radon-222 is a by-product of uranium, and is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas.
WHERE DOES RADON COME FROM?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. Radon begins with uranium, found within the earth. Over time, uranium decays into radium and eventually into radon. Radon undergoes radioactive decay, releasing ionizing radiation and forms "daughter" elements that are known as decay products. It is the release of radiation from this decay process that leads to exposure and health risks from radon.
HOW IS RADON MEASURED?
Radon is measured in picoCuries per liter of air (pCi/L), named for Marie Curie, a physicist who conducted research on uranium and radium. She ultimately died from her radioactive research.
HOW ARE PEOPLE EXPOSED TO RADON?
Radon is everywhere. Outside air contains very low levels of radon (about 0.4 picoCuries per liter [pCi/L] of air). Higher concentrations are found in indoor air. As radon gas migrates through the earth's crust, it follows low pressure areas, such as cracks in the foundation of homes. Foundations include: slabs, crawls spaces and basements.
HOW DOES RADON ENTER THE BODY?
During the decay process, radiation is released in the form of alpha, beta and gamma particles. Alpha particles, when inhaled, penetrate the cells lining the lungs. As radon continues to decay, radiation is released and enters the lung tissues, causing damage.
WHAT ARE THE KNOWN HEALTH EFFECTS?
Exposure to radon increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Based on extensive studies, radon is a known human carcinogen. Radon, in indoor air, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after cigarette smoking.
HOW IS RADON TESTING DONE?
Sharples Home Inspections uses continuous electronic radon monitors. The monitor silent and does not pose any risk. The monitor is set in the lowest, habitable level of the home, will take an air sample every hour and will record the data internally over a minimum of 48 hours. The home must have "closed conditions" for a period of 12 hours prior to the start of and during the testing. Closed conditions means "normal" in and out of the home, not opening windows or propping doors open. After 48 hours, the monitor will be retrieved, downloaded and the data forwarded to the lab for verification.
While any radon exposure creates some health risk, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends all homes be tested for radon with the following steps:
4 pCi/L or higher is considered a health risk and recommends a mitigation system be installed to reduce or eliminate radon.
2.0 pCi/L - 3.9 pCi/L Mitigation should be considered and testing repeated every 2 years (see recommendations below).
0 to 1.9 pCi/L:
repeat testing every two years or if the soil has be disturbed, ie: installation of a in-ground pool or an addition to the home.
Follow up testing will confirm recorded radon levels are within the parameters set by the EPA, whether or not you have a mitigation system.
Newly constructed homes have passive (inactive) radon mitigation systems installed and the home should be tested prior to settlement or within the first year or two of ownership. If radon levels are elevated, the passive system can be modified to an active system.